Helping a Loved One Through Cancer

couple holding hands

Cancer is a diagnosis that nobody wants to hear. The diagnosis alone can be overwhelming, never mind the process of treatment that may follow. So, if a loved one of yours is diagnosed with cancer, you may feel at a loss as to what you can do to help them. On a practical level, anyone besides professional medical staff will be rendered pretty helpless. But you can still support your loved one in a number of other ways that can help to make them more comfortable, lift their spirits, and generally improve their day-to-day experience. Here are some to take into consideration.

Ask Them How They’d Like to Be Treated

Sometimes, the easiest way to determine how someone wants you to treat them is to simply ask. This is a difficult situation and different people will cope with it in different ways. Some people will want to talk about it. Some won’t. Some people will want to be constantly surrounded by loved ones. Some will want their space. Some people will want a fuss made. Some would prefer everyone to act as usual. You can ask outright, or you can try different approaches and gauge which your loved one reacts best to.

Offer Your Services

If your friend or loved one can have treatment and wants treatment, there are different treatments they may be undergoing. These range from chemotherapy to proton therapy and more. Make sure to look into the therapy your friend is having so you know the ins and outs. Then you can see the process and the side effects and help your friend accordingly. Something as simple as offering them a lift to and from the hospital or a top proton therapy center can make all the difference to them, saving them from the task of finding alternative transport themselves. If they are going to be hospitalized, you could offer to look after their pets and water their plants until they’re back out. If you know your friend will be feeling drained, you could cook them a meal or offer to help with their household chores. Acts of service tend to be greatly appreciated.

Buy Thoughtful Gifts

You may want to offer a gift to show that you’re thinking of your friend. Gifts often lift spirits – especially if they’re well thought out or personal. Good generalized gifts for people include travel pillows for the hospital, port pillows for chemotherapy, loungewear, lip balms (many people experience chapped lips from the air conditioning units in healthcare facilities) and more. Avoid flowers in hospital, as some hospitals don’t accept them due to the potential presence of fungal spores which could slow recovery. You should also avoid gifts of perfumes or scents, as some chemotherapy treatments can cause an alteration in your loved one’s sense of smell, making certain scents cause nausea.

Hopefully, the above information can help you to provide your loved one with support and care through their diagnosis and treatment. This is bound to be a difficult time, but your support could make all the difference!

Wishing you the very best,

Suzie Carr, novelist

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