For anyone with cancer, receiving support from friends and family is a critical part of their journey. A cancer diagnosis will catch anyone off guard and often shift our everyday roles and attitudes. Though well-intentioned, those who have not personally experienced cancer can not truly understand the emotional and physical strain. 

As a loved one of someone with cancer, you likely want to help in any way you can but may not
know-how. Here are a few tips on how to provide support to your loved one battling cancer:

Manage Your Feelings First
Being a caregiver or a support provider to someone with cancer is complex, and you’ll face your own strong emotions. What will happen to my loved one? Will they be in pain? Will they live? Could the same happen to me? Before you can be there for your loved one, you must be there for yourself. Take time to manage and digest your feelings after your loved one’s diagnosis. 

Consciously Listen
It may sound easy to be there and listen to your loved one, but it can sometimes be challenging. We all want to improve things and take away their pain, but being there to listen and talk can be very beneficial. Let your loved one express their true thoughts and feelings openly and without judgment, even if they make you uncomfortable. Remember to listen with your body and don’t interrupt or try to change their feelings.  

Share Your Love And Appreciation Often
Though your actions may show your appreciation, words will always matter. So don’t forget to tell them how much you love them, appreciate them, and praise their efforts and determination. Battling cancer is hard, and some added affirmations that you are thinking of them and that they are cared for and loved can go a long way. 

Lend a Helping Hand
For those with cancer, life’s daily tasks can be more difficult. Dust gathers quickly, cooking at home is a lot of work, shopping is draining, and other important life and housekeeping tasks will need to get done, but cancer fatigue and mental exhaustion can be too taxing. Offer support by asking to do needed tasks for them, such as, “Can I come over tomorrow at noon to vacuum the house?” The more specific the offer, the better; your loved one is sure to appreciate it. 

Go to The Appointments

Being present with your loved one at their doctor’s and treatment visits is a great way to show your care and support. Hospitals and clinics can be frightening, the appointments and treatments can be overwhelming, and the waiting can be tough, so having a companion physically there can make a difference. While there, be sure to take notes, listen, and observe, but let your loved ones make their own decisions and follow in their lead. 

Respect Their Needs to be Alone
Sometimes, your loved one with cancer will say they need to be alone to avoid feeling like a bother, but in other instances, they genuinely want some alone time. When they ask for distance or time to themselves, ask to be sure that it’s what they want and then respect it, they will need time to reflect and rest privately. If others are involved, such as other close friends wishing to visit, check and see if your loved one is truly up for it, and if not, show your thanks and then respectfully tell your guests it isn’t the right time.

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