Every individual is different. But we have found that most patients diagnosed with cancer appreciate support from their family and friends. If you are a primary caregiver to a relative with cancer, here are 5 tips for you:
- Be patient. Both with yourself and your relative with cancer. A cancer diagnosis comes with a plethora of emotions that can be difficult to deal with. Usually, being patient allows you to sort through feelings of anger, dejection and fear.
- Keep open communication with the patient. This means openly talking about emotions and feelings. Instead of putting on a brave face, you may cry together, find laughter in simple things and sometimes just sit in silence. It is important to discuss how you can maintain a loving healthy relationship despite the disease. If appropriate, don’t shy away from speaking freely on difficult topics like treatment, sex life, nutrition and money.
- Support him/her in managing finances. Cancer care can be expensive, and money is usually a difficult subject for patients before, during and after treatment. A relative who is unable to fully finance cancer treatment might need support from other relatives, friends and even organizations. Openly discussing finances can help take away that burden from your relative with cancer.
- Keep informed about the cancer type, treatment and possible side effects as well as any available support groups. Your information should be from credible sources and intended to only support your relative in making decisions. It is not always necessary to offer advice unless you have been asked to.
- Take care of yourself. It is important you stay healthy and in good shape yourself during the difficult times. Keep up relationships with friends and other relatives, maintaining a trusted third party with whom you can share overwhelming feelings. Finally, take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. This means eating healthy, sleeping well and keeping a schedule of regular physical activity.