A cancer diagnosis is devastating for the patient and their loved ones. For many people, it’s the worst case health scenario, and given that every sixth death in the world is attributed to cancer, it’s a completely founded medical fear. It is thought that one in two people will develop cancer at some point in their life, and that means half the world will have to navigate the often traumatic route of the diagnosis and the treatments that follow. For many, the treatment will be the hardest part of the journey.
Although cancer treatments have come on leaps and bounds with the advancement of modern medicine, most people still experience debilitating side effects and will require long-term support – both mentally and physically – to help them through their treatment plan. With half the world expected to develop cancer at one point or another, knowing how to support those going through treatment is essential. Here are some ways you can be there for a loved one who is undergoing treatment.
1. Chaperone them to appointments
Many cancer treatments like chemotherapy, proton beam therapy and immunotherapy treatment will leave a patient feeling tired after their session. Of course, this is entirely dependent on the person and how their body reacts to the treatment, but it’s largely unpredictable. Many cancer treatments are administered over the course of a few hours and this can be extremely taxing on a person’s body – even if they’ve previously been able to undergo the treatment and feel fine afterwards. For this reason, one useful way you can help support someone who is undergoing cancer treatment is to chaperone them to and from their appointments.
Not only is this much safer in case they take a turn for the worst in the car afterwards, but it allows you help alleviate their anxiety levels on the way to their appointment, too.
2. Organize house help
In the same way a person might be too tired to drive after treatment, they may find it hard to keep on top of basic household chores. For many patients, accepting help is a last resort and is something they might reject initially, but nevertheless, it’s important that you offer them assistance and keep letting them know that the offer is there. Depending on how ill a person gets during their treatment will determine how much help they will need. For some people, they’ll experience very few symptoms or they might undergo surgery and therefore have a shorter treatment turnaround. Other people might require several cycles of chemotherapy and therefore might need assistance for an extended period of time. Some people might even need live-in help which is something you can either do yourself if you’re up to it, or it’s something you can outsource.
The same goes for cleaning – if you can’t do it yourself, you can still support your loved one in this way by arranging for a cleaner to visit on specific days.
3. Treat them the same
This might sound contradictory to points one and two, but it is possible to chaperone someone to their treatment and offer house help at the same time as treating them the same as before their diagnosis. Don’t avoid making plans in the future – continue planning trips like you always have done. Try not to see your loved one as just their cancer diagnosis; speak to them like you did before their diagnosis, they’ll appreciate it far more than being pandered to. Arrange to go out for lunch, go on shopping trips and get coffee, as well as days out and holidays. Treating someone like normal is often the best way you can support them.
These three tips will help you support someone going through cancer treatment, though it is, of course, entirely personal to the patient. The best thing to do is to listen to them in order to provide them with the mental and physical support they may need but might not want to ask for.