Despite the fact the mortality rates have continued to drop dramatically in the past couple of decades, a cancer diagnosis is always a life-changing event. Even if it’s not a death sentence, it can be tremendously difficult to cope with. If a loved one, family member, partner, or friend has been diagnosed, you may very well feel anxious to provide some, if any help. The answer isn’t always the same and is rarely easy, but you can always help. Here are some of the things to keep in mind.
Listen and learn
If you’re going to be playing a major part in their life, then you should understand how the diagnosis affects their life. Learning about the condition from reputable online sources can help you manage your expectations so you can handle them with a little more compassion and understanding. But most important of all is learning how to listen to your loved one when they talk about the condition and how they are living with it. No single person has the same battle against cancer as another. Don’t make assumptions and don’t offer advice unheeded. They will be used to hearing those from many people.
Offer practical help where needed
It’s different, of course, if your friend asks for help or has difficulty managing all their needs. Some of them will be the simplest practical needs, such as getting help going to the hospital if they don’t have a car or don’t feel well enough to drive. If they’re going through chemotherapy treatments, visiting RD.com can show you how to support them if they’re open to having you there. If they’re confused about seeking treatment or anxious about looking for it, you can offer to help them search. Don’t try to anticipate their needs too much, let them express what they are and make the offer to help.
Be truly present
The emotional and moral support you can offer may be some of the most valuable to them. Living with any chronic condition, including cancer, can be tremendously isolating. Your friend will likely have an experience of people trying to empathize without the shared experience important to truly doing so. They will have others who are so busy worrying about their reactions and input that they aren’t truly able to listen and respond to the concerns and fears stressed. Learning to be truly present, as shown at RXEConsult.com, isn’t always easy. Don’t avoid spending time with them. They will be getting used to life with the diagnosis as best they can, and if you can do the same, you can get past all the initial anxiety and react like a human would and should.
Stay informed and hopeful
There are a variety of different ways to treat cancer. Besides staying informed about the condition, itself, and what you can expect, learning more about the treatments can help you provide more practical assistance and be aware of any side-effects. It can be a good morale boost to learn about new treatment breakthroughs and research by visiting HeraBioLabs.com and similar sites. That’s not to say that you should try to present hopeful news to your friend. It is simply good for you to learn that there are constantly breakthroughs and that we are winning the fight against cancer, slowly but surely. It’s not difficult to develop a gloom and doom outlook when someone you love so dearly is fighting such a terrible diagnosis, but it’s your responsibility to stay positive where possible.
Mind your own feelings
Supporting your friend might be the most important thing to you, at the moment, but cancer isn’t a diagnosis that affects one person. It affects everyone in their lives as well. As Cancercenter.com states, it’s not uncommon for families, caregivers, and loved ones to suffer from cancer-related depression, as well as those actually diagnosed with it. If you feel like you need someone to talk to, don’t dismiss those feelings. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a suggestion that your suffering is comparable to your loved one’s. Pain is pain, and it needs to be taken seriously regardless of context.
Remember your own risk
It’s not uncommon, at all, that we have questions about our own mortality and health risks when someone is confronted so clearly by theirs. You should make regular cancer screenings a part of your life, and learn how to self-screen for some of the most obvious types of cancer. This is especially true if your loved one is a family member. There are many types of cancer have hereditary risk factors. Besides getting screened, it’s always a good idea to make the healthy lifestyle changes that can reduce your risks, such as limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, eating a better diet and getting more exercise. We all have our own fight against cancer to consider.