If you have a loved one with cancer, you want to do everything possible to support them. But sometimes it’s difficult to know how. You may have your own anxiety, confusion, and grief, while helping your loved one through their trials. We have a few tips that can aid you in this difficult time. 

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First 

If you have ever flown on a plane, you have probably heard the flight attendant say “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” This is because you cannot assist anyone if you are unable to breathe yourself. Similarly, you can’t care for your loved one properly if you aren’t doing the same for your own emotional needs. 

Many caregivers experience feelings of loneliness, anxiousness, and depression. This can lead to low sleep quality, appetite changes, and an overall decline in quality of life. Tend to your emotional needs by: 

  • Taking some alone time to do something you truly enjoy
  • Journaling your thoughts and feelings
  • Finding emotional support through trusted friends and family
  • Visiting a counselor or a therapist 
  • Taking care of your physical health by eating healthily, keeping a daily routine, and remaining physically active. 

Provide Emotional Support

Keep in mind that there is no wrong way to feel about this diagnosis, and be a listening ear to the waves of emotions your loved one may experience. Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling with you and/or with a support group or specialist. You may feel uncomfortable talking about the matter as well. By being open and honest about that, you may find camaraderie and understanding together. 

Researching treatments, side effects, and other aspects of the diagnosis may also help you understand what to expect. But be careful not to overwhelm them with information, and to share what you’ve learned only when it is helpful by asking for permission before providing suggestions. 

What To Say 

While maintaining a positive attitude can help, it’s important for you both to stay realistic. Saying things like “Everything is going to be okay,” or lessening their situation by comparing it to something worse doesn’t acknowledge reality. Instead, validate their feelings, and try to resist the instinct to provide a rebuttal. Stay centered on what you both know to be true, such as: 

  • “I’m here for you when you are ready to talk” 
  • “Know that you are not alone” 
  • “I’m not sure what to say, but know that I am here” 
  • “You are allowed to feel [anxious, angry, sad]” 

Provide Support Through Your Actions 

Try to keep day-to-day life somewhat normal — for both of you.  When they are able, cancer patients may feel a sense of normalcy when completing tasks by themselves like cooking and cleaning. Make sure you are doing the same things for yourself. 

Send texts to check up on them, and have regular phone call conversations if you can’t visit. Consistent communication will give your loved one something to look forward to while helping them feel cared for. Some other ways to show you care include: 

  • Send gift baskets of their favorite comforts and snacks
  • Have their favorite meal delivered to them
  • Run errands 
  • Find new activities like crafts, puzzles, or a new TV show to watch together 
  • Offer to go with them to their appointments

Outpatient Imaging Culpeper is dedicated to comfortable and easy full-service imaging. We are steps away from boutiques and many dining options that you can explore before or after your loved one receives quality care from our specialists. Visit our website to learn more, and call us at (540) 321-3190 to schedule an appointment.