How to Support a Loved One Who is Diagnosed with Cancer
Few things in life are as devastating as a cancer diagnosis and many who are subjected to such a difficult experience go through a range of emotions as the things they could once do are slowly stripped away.
Those responsible for caring for someone undergoing cancer treatment or palliative care for a terminal diagnosis need to play a crucial role as someone who offers support but also ensures that the cancer patient themselves still enjoys as much independence as possible.
This article offers some insights into the value of maintaining this independence and also provides some way to ensure that your loved one feels as in control as possible.
The Challenge of Independence When Diagnosed with Cancer
While there have been incredible advances in cancer treatment options in recent years, the diagnosis still leaves most reeling and, for those with inoperable tumors or terminal cases, the road ahead is one in which health will unfortunately decline.
This prospect of slowly losing one’s health and abilities means that more care will be needed, and it might be in your nature to swoop in and offer help out of compassion particularly if your patient is a younger adult. But this care might be seen by your cancer patient as being overbearing or as stripping away the remnants of independence they might have once enjoyed.
There are simple ways, though, that you can ensure you are offering the care necessary while also reinforcing to your loved one that they still are their own person and can make their own choices.
Caring for Cancer Patients
There are some straightforward ways that you can commit to caring for your loved one while also ensuring they still feel that they are their own independent person. These can include:
Focusing on the Health Plan and Researching Available Resources
One of the biggest stressors beyond the diagnosis of cancer care is the cost of treatments. Cancer treatment can be incredibly expensive and depending on the duration of your loved one’s treatment regimens and your proximity to a qualified healthcare facility, you might find that you need to work fewer hours or even leave your job entirely, which only adds to the potential financial strain.
The good news is that you can call in an amazing array of resources that can help you manage the financial impact of treatment. The American Cancer Society offers a Health Insurance Assistance Service, so do your research to learn which of these programs might be of benefit to you.
Connecting With Your Loved One in New Ways
Some people who have taken on the role of caregiver for a spouse or child note that the experience was life-changing in a positive way because it gave them the chance to connect with their loved one in ways they never considered before.
Embodying this outlook as you embark on a similar role with your loved one can transform the experience entirely. While you help them adjust to their new reality, you can reinforce their inner strength for fighting such a powerful disease.
At the same time, you can work to accentuate the positives: whether it is an upbeat doctor’s appointment or a life goal achieved, these are great moments to remind your cancer patient how strong or special they are that they are making such strides or fighting so well.
Underscoring these little accomplishments can go far in bolstering your loved one’s sense of independence and can help them escape their diagnosis – even for a moment – and remember normal life.
Taking Time For Yourself
Often when a child or spouse is stricken with a cancer diagnosis, their loved ones throw themselves so deeply into care that they lose track of themselves and become overly fatigued or worn out.
If you want to be there for your loved one, you also need to be aware of your own needs. Be realistic about what you can offer, and don’t be afraid to reach out for community support when you need it.
Inspiring Independence Through Compassionate Care
Though cancer diagnoses are life-altering, the care you offer a loved one who receives such a diagnosis can be structured so that you offer them the careful balance of loving care alongside the freedom to maintain their independence as long as possible. Doing so can not only keep your loved one happier, but it can help strengthen your relationship together.
Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.