When your loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may feel unsure about what exactly you can do to help. Cancer is at once universally relatable and incredibly specific, as every cancer patient may approach his/her diagnosis differently. Though there are no hard and fast rules, below are some suggestions on how you can show your support and love:
1. Be a treatment buddy
The treatment process is new to your loved one. Staying with him/her during the process as an emotional support may help him/her overcome the process with more confidence and comfort. For example, you can accompany your loved one to doctor visits or keep track of post-treatment instructions, such as diet or exercise restrictions.
2. Offer companionship
As your loved one may need to undergo many grueling treatments, he/she may become increasingly fatigued and isolated from society. You can offer your loved one to take walks together, enjoy some teatime or shopping together, or simply sit together and relax. The most important thing is to remind him/her that he/she is not alone.
3. Offer childcare
If your loved one has children, he/she may not have the energy or time to give their children the care and attention needed in this trying time for the family. If you can offer to take care of the children, it can both comfort both the loved one and the children, and also allow the loved one to stay focused on getting healthier.
4. Help with mood changes
A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Both the emotional toil and also the treatment therapy itself can cause mood changes. According to NCCN (n.d.), most cancer treatments can cause adverse effects on the patient's mental health manifesting as depression, anxiety or memory impairment. You can help your loved one identify and manage the mood changes by supporting their physical and mental health needs.
5. Be involved in decision making process
Cancer treatment may require many adjustments and changes, such as new medications or treatments. Your loved one may need you, alongside the doctor, to help inform his/her decision. Though the Internet has a wide variety of information, it may be unreliable or inapplicable. It is important to be involved in the decision-making process to help your loved one make the most suitable decisions.
Though you cannot directly cure your loved one, you can help him/her overcome the challenges of diagnosis and treatment. Cancer is incredibly specific in how your loved one approaches this incurable condition, but also universally relatable as a condition requiring unconditional love and support.
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