Cancer is one of the most dreaded diagnoses a patient can receive. It can feel overwhelming for someone to be diagnosed with cancer. At that time, more than ever, someone diagnosed with cancer will need their family and friends. When someone you love has cancer, you might want to help, but not know what to do.
Cancer and its treatment have both physical and mental effects. Procedures such as chemotherapy can leave a cancer patient physically exhausted afterward.
The disease itself can render patients physically weak and unable to perform routine daily tasks. Psychologically speaking, patients can experience depression and feel hopeless.
Help Them At Home
A person who has cancer may require help doing previously effortless tasks. Basic tasks such as getting dressed, eating, or preparing food may become painful or outright impossible. Family members living with the patient will need to assist them, and possibly take on the responsibilities the patient previously had.
The patient might insist on performing their usual daily activities, in defiance of their illness. Pushing themselves too hard can be detrimental; it helps to remind them that there is no shame in resting. Cancer is still a mortal foe to face, and the patient will need as much of their strength as they can to fight it.
It truly helps someone with cancer to have more assistance than usual – they most likely won’t be able to help with responsibilities around their homes.
Keep Social Contact
Cancer patients can feel isolated, especially now with COVID-19. It’s critical to remind family members that have cancer that they are not alone. Remind them that they are loved. Studies have shown that mortality rates in cancer patients increase in depressed patients.
Your family members with cancer need your support and your companionship. They need to know and internalize that they are not alone. They must feel that you are there to support them.
You might think that someone with cancer is best left alone to rest. Sometimes, that may be the case, but it is equally important to let the patient know that their family and friends will not forget them.
Patients might express feelings of hopelessness. The thought that cancer might end their lives at any moment is a staggering revelation. To someone with cancer, their lives might seem to be on a timer, about to be cut short. It can be easy for them to ask, “what’s the point?”
That kind of thinking can easily lead to a never-ending downward spiral into hopelessness. A person in that spiral will find it difficult, if not impossible, to change their thoughts on the matter. To break out of that spiral, a person will usually need a push from the outside.
That’s where family and friends come in. As much as possible, try to keep their hopes up. Each patient will respond differently – one person might need words of encouragement; others may prefer facts.
Whoever you find yourself assisting could need something else entirely. What is essential is that the patient – your loved one – does not lose hope.
Keep Communications Open
According to Anne Moyer Ph.D., cancer has various effects on a patient’s relationships. “These include distress, fears about the future, pain, changes in body and self-image, fatigue, and physical and sexual functionality.”
As a result, these can alter the relationships and activities they engage in. Some people might try to tough it out and not ask for help, especially emotional support.
Family and friends will play a crucial role in helping a cancer patient recover, but the patient has to know that help is available. Do not let them think that they have to do everything on their own – your loved ones should know that they can call on you, or call on a professional for mental health assistance.
Given that family members are usually with patients, it will fall upon them to ensure that they keep communications with the patient open. The person with cancer needs to know that they can ask for help at any time.
Take Care Of Yourself Too
Cancer patients need their family around them, and having a loving support system is, without a doubt, helpful to their ability to recover. However, you will find it challenging to take care of someone if you neglect yourself. Make sure that you have your support systems as well.
You might call on other family members or friends to help you maintain your physical and mental health. Just as your afflicted family member needs help and can ask for help, you too might need assistance.
Caregiving and the extra responsibilities you might have to take on can be tiring. Don’t forget about yourself while helping someone else. You, your family, and your loved one are in this fight together.