The impact of cancer reaches far beyond the diseased cells of the patient. Their immediate family suffers along with them, as well as extended family, close friends, co-workers, and even neighbors and community members.
Sometimes it is hard to know how to encourage someone with cancer, so here are some tips that may help you communicate with and encourage the cancer warrior in your life.
How Can Cancer Affect a Family?
For very obvious reasons, cancer can be difficult and exhausting on a family. Events may have to go unattended due to the time constraints of appointments and treatments, as well as the health of the cancer patient. Cancer can hurt the physical health of the entire family because of the stress that fear, uncertainty, and sadness put on each member.
For some people, a major illness like cancer can bring them closer, but for others, it can make them distance and destroy a relationship.
Cancer can have an impact on monthly income, and, depending on medical costs and insurance coverage, can even create a financial crisis.
Role reversal can cause a lot of upheaval. The cancer patient may start to assume guilt because they are unable to act and provide as they once did, and the spouse or other loved one, while they do not mind stepping in to help, may feel a great deal of added stress. Children caring for parents who are cancer patients is an even more complex situation.
What Do You Say To Someone Who Is Fighting Cancer?
Like all communication, what to say to a cancer patient depends on the cancer patient, as well as your relationship. Like with anyone, it can depend on the day. Are they feeling poorly from recent treatment? Are they just worn out? So more important than what to say is what to do, and the most important thing to do is listen, observe, and act accordingly.
How To Be a Good Listener to Someone With Cancer
First, make sure you brush up on your listening skills in general. Many of us think we are good listeners, but we are not. To be there for someone who is dealing with cancer, make sure you:
- Give them your undivided attention
- Assure them that you have the time to give them
- Don’t interrupt – remember follow-up questions for later
- Don’t make the conversation about you
- Don’t rush or push – they will speak as and when they wish
- Only give advice when asked for
- Don’t fill the pauses – silences are needed
Tips for Visiting Someone With Cancer
This information is vitally important to the well-being of the cancer patient. Visits can be rehabilitative, but they can also be detrimental if not thought through. Some things you should remember when visiting someone with cancer are:
- Schedule the visit with them ahead of time. Surprise visits are not welcome.
- Assure them that if they need to cancel, it is fine and understandable, even at the last minute.
- Ask if you can help with anything, like pick up groceries, prescriptions, take the dog for a walk, etc.
- Be flexible with dates and times.
- Be observant and don’t overstay your welcome.
Make Sure You Are Healthy
This cannot be stressed enough. Make sure you are healthy! Yes, it may be disappointing if you have to cancel, but even if you just have a slight tickle in your throat and a bit of a runny nose, DO NOT visit a cancer patient.
Treatment destroys those bad cancer cells, but it destroys the good cells too, so patients have a compromised immune system. A sniffle from you can lead to pneumonia, or worse, for them.
Other Helpful Support Ideas
If you are trying to figure out how to encourage someone with cancer, don’t be afraid to ask them what they need or want. Some great support ideas are:
- Prep meals for them that can be frozen and used as needed.
- Take other family members on playdates or offer childcare.
- Provide cancer support group and other resource information.
- Run errands for them: groceries, pet to the vet, pick up dry cleaning, little things that can be tough for a cancer patient at the time.
- Help organize a cancer support team.
- Get them out of the house
- Spoil them with a Cancer Wellness Retreat, like Pampered In Paradise.
The best support you can give is to be there for them and be a good friend, and make sure you take care of yourself as well.