We know how important it is to go for regular cancer screening tests to detect the presence of cancer and evaluate the right course of treatment. But getting the news isn’t as easy. Receiving a cancer diagnosis often shakes one’s world, and life as you know it has to come to a pause. For some, there will be initial feelings of shock, numbness and denial. But as reality starts to set in, they may be taken on an emotional rollercoaster of grief, anger and fear.
The support from family and friends is crucial to someone who is battling cancer. However, if you haven’t personally dealt with cancer before, it may be difficult to completely understand what your loved one may be going through physically and emotionally. As a result, you may feel awkward and unsure of what to say or do to make them feel better.
As you embark on this journey together with your loved one, it’s important to let them know that they’re not alone. If you’re finding it difficult to be there for your loved one during this time, take comfort in knowing that it’s normal.
To make this difficult time a little easier, here are a few ways to support your loved one through their cancer diagnosis.
Deal with your feelings first
Although cancer is undoubtedly terrifying for the patient, you will also be faced with your own set of fears and negative emotions when your loved one gets diagnosed. You’re likely to have many questions revolving around your loved one’s treatment, prognosis and how life will change from here. You may find yourself grieving the future and struggling to maintain hope.
It’s important to face your fears and deal with your own emotions before you support your loved one. Doing so will allow you to truly be able to listen attentively to their emotional needs during this time.
Lend a listening ear
Listening may sound like an easy task, but it can be a huge challenge, especially when your loved one is facing a life-threatening condition. Our natural instinct often leads us to want to make things better. You may want to offer advice in an attempt to fix things. However, all your loved one may want is just for someone to listen.
Let your loved one openly express their feelings, even if difficult topics are brought up. Don’t judge or interrupt – simply sit with your loved one as they share what’s on their mind. Giving your loved one the opportunity to comfortably share how they feel is one of the biggest forms of support that you can provide to them.
Lend a hand
Actions speak louder than words sometimes. Life goes on for those with cancer, despite having to deal with treatment and the side effects that come with it. Your loved one may feel extremely fatigued during this time.
Instead of waiting for your loved one to ask for help, offer to do small daily tasks for them when you know they lack the energy to do so. Something as straightforward as helping to get their groceries will often be deeply appreciated.
Keep things normal
At the same time, do try to keep things normal by letting them do tasks that they’re able to handle. This helps them to feel useful at a time where it’s easy to feel helpless. It’s important that you respect your loved one’s wishes to do daily tasks that they’d normally do on their own.
For some cancer patients, being able to do simple things such as cooking a meal or continue working can help them to gain a sense of normality, rather than feeling like cancer has taken over their lives. Your loved one may not want to be reminded of their cancer, so it may be helpful to make conversation that doesn’t revolve around their condition.
Bring some laughter
Humour can sometimes be the best medicine. While it’s crucial that you’re sensitive to the instances where your loved one needs to express their feelings, be ready to smile and laugh with them as well. People with cancer may easily feel depressed, and their energy levels may be low. Laughter is a positive way that you can raise their energy and bring some happy moments to this otherwise dark time.
Dealing with cancer is a difficult battle, but the support from loved ones can make all the difference. Additionally, support from a team of experienced oncology specialists can help to ease the vigour of treatment as well.
Visit our cancer treatment centre in Singapore and speak to our oncologist specialist about any concerns you may have regarding your condition and treatment. Our dedicated team will be there to offer you and your family support at every step of the way.