The emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming not only to the person facing the illness, but to that person’s family and friends as well. Whether the person diagnosed is your own child, parent, sibling or best friend, finding the right way to offer emotional support through words and actions may be a challenge, especially if you have never been in such a position before.
When offering support to a loved one diagnosed with cancer, here are some things to consider:
Be open minded and listen
Understand that your loved one will be experiencing varying degrees of thoughts and emotions. This person will have many ups and downs as his or her mental and physical strength is pushed to new levels. As much as you will want to motivate them through positive talk and affirmations, sometimes it is better to simply listen. Let your loved one vent. Allowing them to completely express whatever they are feeling without any judgment is important.
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” – Rachel Naomi Remen
Learn about their specific condition and treatment options
With all the medical concerns your family member or friend has to deal with, it will be helpful to have a family or friend be a another source of information about their specific condition and the treatment options available. Although it is best to allow them to make their own decisions, being knowledgeable about their specific condition will play an important role in case your loved one asks for your advice.
Be helpful but not overbearing
It is natural to feel like there is always more you can do for a cancer patient. However, try to remember that most people who are living with cancer are inundated with information about their illness on a daily basis. It might be refreshing for them to remember who they were before their diagnoses. This means allowing them to do the things they are still capable of doing without the help of others. By still being able to do normal activities, such as cooking, the feeling that cancer is completely taking over their lives will lessen, giving them some peace of mind.
Stay connected, even when treatment is over
Often times, lengthy hospital stays may leave a cancer patient feeling disconnected from a lot of people in their life. If you are not able to visit your loved one in the hospital due to scheduling conflicts or distance, regular phone calls will be helpful. It is also important to maintain a strong support system for your loved one even once treatment is over. This will be a very crucial time as they try to rebuild themselves mentally, physically and emotionally after what they have gone through. Knowing that you were by their side from the initial diagnoses and throughout their treatment speaks volumes.
Contact the Cancer Center of Southern California
If you or a loved one has been affected by cancer and you are looking for treatment, second opinions, and more, get in touch with the oncologists at the Cancer Center of Southern California. Call 310-552-9999 to learn more and schedule an appointment with our team today.