Think Beyond Cancer

Cancer is sometimes a life-and-death battle. The first and foremost rule of communication is compassion. For example, if we see our partner is physically and emotionally weakened after a series of chemotherapy treatments, we may act out of our own fear and speak sharply to them.

Instead of snapping at them out of your own fear with something harsh like, "Buck up," ask them how they are feeling and tell them you love them.

Facing a potential loss

A loved one's imminent or potential death can be an enormous weight on our shoulders. It is often impossible to imagine our own life without this person in it. Even though it is difficult, realizing that a loss like this is possible helps to better prepare us for end of life issues.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help: We should not be ashamed if we find that we need to talk to a professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists are great unbiased resources to which we can express our deepest emotions. There are even support groups for those of us doing the supporting.
  • Create a place for memories: Many of us fear that the loss of our loved one will mean the loss of all our treasured memories with that person. Making sure we keep those memories close to us is an extremely important part of dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Tips for supporting others

One of the best ways to support someone with cancer is to learn to listen to them. It is devastating to hear the words "I have cancer" come out of a loved one's mouth. We can feel shocked, angry, and confused. It is not hard, then, to imagine what the person who actually has cancer must be feeling.

Giving loved ones the chance to talk about their fears can reduce their anxiety and help them feel like the person they were before cancer. Here are a few suggestions for helping loved ones feel like they can talk about anything:

  • Use humor: Although cancer is no joking matter, maintaining a sense of humor can help many people deal with the disease. Even doctors admit that laughter can be the best medicine. Watching a funny movie or reminiscing about silly memories with loved ones can help take everyone's mind off cancer.
  • Express anger and fear. In the case of a cancer diagnosis, however, it can be difficult to cope with fear. Often our first reaction when a friend or family member is upset is to comfort them and tell them everything will be alright. This may come across as dismissive of the realities of the illness our loved one is facing. It is okay to express our fears, and to create an environment where our loved ones can discuss the emotions they are experiencing.
  • Allow the release: It is important to express any anger, frustration, and fear. By allowing people to release their emotions, whether good or bad, the healing process can begin. Remind loved ones that it is healthy and natural to be angry and scared.
  • Just be there: We all take comfort in knowing that there is someone who will always be there for us and love us unconditionally. When someone is first diagnosed with cancer, they need this reassurance more than ever.
  • It is enough to just sit in silence and hold their hand. This shows them we care and that we are in this with them for the long haul. Many people with cancer fear abandonment by friends and family. It is our job to eliminate this worry.
  • Even with all our love and support we may sometimes need to reach out for help. Family members can ask the doctor who diagnosed a loved one for advice.The end of life period is a very hard moment for everyone. Generally, it occurs a long time after the beginning of the disease, so the close relatives and the patient often think that all the efforts done have been useless.
  • The healthcare team is present to talk with the patient's family and try to comfort them. More over, the close relatives became essential for the communication between the patient and the doctor, because they know him well and maybe can better express his will.
  • It's often a period during which a lot of cares are given to the patient in order to give him the best quality of life until death. Sometimes, a home hospitalisation is possible and is more pleasant for the family and the patient.
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