Posted in: Cancer by Dr. Tarang Krishna
It’s important to remember that there are no set rules for supporting a cancer patient. Being considerate and sensitive to how one is feeling is what most patients need. Think about your unique dynamic and let that guide you as you are trying to support your friend. Remember to keep it simple. Remember, little things matter the most. Every individual is different, and what is helpful to one person may not be to another. However, Cancer Healer Center, a leading cancer hospital in India suggests a few tips to support the cancer patient:
1. Offer to help with the daily tasks: The experienced and best cancer doctors in India recommend that some of the most important things you can do is offer assistance with everyday errands and tasks such as grocery shopping, laundry or similar activities. You can make a list of the tasks you are willing to do and ask your friend where you can help. If you are going out to the store for your household items, give your friend a call and see if there’s something he/she needs.
2. Listen: The most meaningful and helpful thing you can do is just LISTEN. Let the cancer patients talk without interrupting. It’s not necessary to have all the answers always but just an understanding and sympathetic ear. In contrast, the patient might not want to talk at all and would prefer to sit silently. Acknowledge and respect their needs.
3. Emotional support: Research by top cancer hospitals in India show that emotional support from friends and family can make a huge difference to the quality of life of someone with cancer. Caregivers are sometimes afraid of saying the wrong things. If you are open, honest and you are empathetic; it can be of a great help to the patients. Here are some tips which can help you:
-Respect the need for privacy.
-Give a friendly hug and offer support through the diagnosis
-Share a joke or laugh with them
-Keep the relationship as normal and as balanced as possible
-Ring them up, send a card, note or text to say you’re thinking of them.
-Tell them to ‘be strong’ or ‘be positive’
-Compare the situation to someone else you know or offer unwanted advice
-Take things personally if they seem angry or upset
4. Don’t be intrusive: Try avoiding conversations about cancer. Don’t ask questions about their numbers of tumor markers. If they want to talk about the blood results, they will. Give them the freedom of choice to offer this information or not. Also, don’t ask personal questions that you wouldn't have asked before.
5. Give thoughtful gifts: Keep in mind the interests and hobbies of your friend. However, giving a gift can be tricky for various reasons. Flowers may not be appropriate for someone whose immune system is weak but movies, books or magazines can be great distractions. Keep the gifts fun, interesting, serious, or light, depending on what your friend needs the most at that moment.
6. Remember, every cancer patient is different: Even if your two loved ones have the same cancer, keep in mind that everyone’s symptoms and disease are unique. While you may want to reach into your own life to find a common link, oncologists and therapists recommends avoiding such comparisons. It’s not a smart decision to compare illnesses.
7. Give support with no boundaries or strings: Cancer treatment is physically and emotionally exhausting. Your emails, calls, presents, and positive expressions of support are appreciated. Give them support with no strings attached and exonerate them from any stress your help might bring.