This is a guest post written by Scott Sanders from CancerWell.org. In this post are tips and advice on how to best help a loved one who is going through cancer treatment.
Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing, earth-shattering experience.
A person with a serious illness is filled with lots of emotions and feeling a lot of physical pain, too. Learn how to give your best self to your loved one and find ways to give them the support they need during this difficult time.
How to Talk to Your Loved One
The things you say to a cancer patient affect them in a lot of ways. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is simply listen and say nothing at all, according to Cancer Care. Don’t give advice or opinions unless you’re asked or make reassurances that everything is going to be OK.
Get Them to Talk to You
It’s not uncommon for terminally ill patients to attempt to downplay their pain or refuse to talk about it. Encourage your loved one to be open about when they’re in pain, what the pain is like and how much of it they’re experiencing. Physicians treating the cancer need to know about the physical discomfort of their patients so they can design effective treatment plans, and you need to know when they’re in pain so you can help them through it.
There are many physical things you can do to help a person who has a serious illness. Do their grocery shopping for them, run errands and do chores around the house. According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, these things can be very helpful and provide the sick person with the support they need.
Get Mentally Prepared
The way you react to your loved one is going to affect them. That’s why it’s important for you to mentally prepare yourself for the changes that cancer may cause. People going through this often suffer from weight changes, all-over hair loss, extreme fatigue and pale skin. You will also notice many emotional changes. Cancer patients may have trouble staying focused, vomit frequently and suffer with insomnia, according to the American Cancer Society. Try your best not to have a visible reaction to these changes. Understand that these changes are normal and expected.
Create a Safe Space
People who have a terminal illness often feel as though they have lost control of their lives, because in many ways they have. Depression, anxiety, stress and other strong emotional states are common among people who have cancer. One way you can help them is by decluttering their homes. This may seem like a strange approach, but decluttering can decrease stress and increase that feeling of being in control and in charge that seriously ill people lack in their lives. Decluttering helps increase focus and improves mood, and that will always have a positive effect.
Encourage Positive Feelings
After you’ve decluttered for your loved one, give them a meditation space. Pick a room, or even just a corner of a room, and turn this into a tiny meditation retreat where they can let go of stress and learn how to focus their minds away from the pain. Some physicians use meditation as a treatment tool for this reason.
Create a meditation space by placing a comfortable chair or bed that your loved one can use, along with some candles or incense, in the space. Provide them with a focal point, a small piece of art or some beloved object, so they can use this to tune out the rest of the world. You may even include a book or a graphic picture that offers tips on how to meditate.
Stay supportive, stay prepared and stay active when you want to help a loved one with cancer. Keep doing the little things that you can do to make them more comfortable and make their environment more pleasant. Be a good listener, and when you aren’t sure what to say just don’t say anything. Stick to a few simple tips, and you’ll be the best friend you can possibly be to your loved one.