Being diagnosed with cancer is heart-wrenching news to process. If your colleague, friend, or family member is going through this most difficult journey, you’d naturally want to make them feel that you’re there for them.
Supporting cancer patients isn’t as easy as it looks, though. You have to consider what they’re feeling, knowing that displaying your emotion might end up hurting them more rather than easing their worries. At the same time, you’re also dealing with pain and fear with the thought of losing them along the way.
Knowing how to properly support a person with cancer is important so you can keep on sustaining them with your strength, positivity, and care. Doing so can tremendously help them as they cope with such a life-changing illness.
Supporting A Cancer-Stricken Loved One
Upon learning that a loved one has cancer, your initial emotions would most probably be despair, fear, and pain. You’ll immediately want to comfort them and let them know you’re there to offer support. You can also be speechless and at a loss of what to do or feel. These are all normal reactions and as overwhelmed as you may be, just imagine how frightening the news could be for the patient themselves.
Aside from cancer support services and programs that they can be a part of, it’s important that your loved ones know you’re with them every step of the way. Here are some tips that may help you out in supporting a cancer patient:
- Ask First If It’s Okay to Visit
Visiting them may be the first thing that’ll come to your mind upon learning the heartbreaking news, but before you do so, take time to ask them first if it’s okay for you to drop by. Anyone who’s not feeling well has the right to refuse visitors, especially during their most vulnerable times.
Try to keep an open mind and understand that there’ll be unpredictable and low points in a patient’s journey where they don’t feel like being around people, no matter how close you are to them. The best thing to do is reach out first via text message, call, or email to ask how they are.
If they respond, then you can ask if it’s okay to pay them a visit. If they say yes, make sure not to overstay. Or, you can also ask directly at some point if they want you to stay longer or come back at another day or time.
- Don’t Say ‘It’s Going to Be Alright’ All the Time
While positivity is a good trait to display during tough times, it’s not always something that cancer patients are looking forward to hearing. Limit how often you’d say lines like ‘it’s going to be alright,’ or ‘everything’s going to be okay.’ If they hear such lines too frequently, they could end up asking themselves if it’s indeed going to be alright, then doubt, fear, or anxiety could foster even more.
You don’t always have to say something whenever you’re talking to a cancer patient. Sometimes, small but thoughtful gestures like hugging them or holding their hand for a good few minutes can already make a difference. Instead of reassuring them that everything will be fine, encourage them to stay strong and that they’ll make it through cancer.
- Think Of Their Special Diet Before Gifting Foods
Thoughtfulness always goes a long way, especially when someone you love is sick. But then, before gifting them with food, make sure you take into consideration any special diet or treatment that they may be in. Before making soup or casserole for them, simply ask first if there’s anything they want to eat or any food restrictions you should know about.
Most of the time, it’s better to give something else instead of food just to be on the safe side. You can consider giving them fresh flowers, books, magazines, or other things that you think they’ll appreciate.
- Listen With Your Heart
For cancer patients, having someone to talk to is already something to be grateful for. Whenever you pay them a visit or talk to them over the phone, it’s okay to feel at a loss for words, but be sure to lend an ear. You can tell them directly that you don’t know what to say, but you’re there to listen. This is way better than pretending to know everything and talk endlessly without minding how they’ll feel about it.
- Be Strong
This may already be an understatement, but it’s worth mentioning. Your strength will not just be yours alone moving forward. Keep in mind that your loved ones will also be drawing their strength from yours in some ways. However, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to be tough all the time. Recognize warning signs if you think you’re feeling exhausted or worn out from the journey. Learn how to destress, so you can come back stronger and more enduring than before.
It’s not easy to support someone with cancer, as you also have to deal with your own emotions. But then, remember that you’re one of the people they depend on, and as such, it’s important to know how you can sustain them as they fight their perturbing illness. Be there for them. Make them feel they’re not alone in this journey. Your support can mean the world to them without you knowing it.