When a family member or friend is diagnosed with cancer, it’s hard to know what to say or do for them. The truth is, there’s not much you can say. But there are things you can do to assist in the process and show them that they’re not alone. Here are some ways in which you can help a loved one who is going through cancer treatment, courtesy of Neighborly.
Be the Volunteer Coordinator
It’s likely there will be people who want to help your loved one get through treatment. What usually impedes such assistance, however, is a lack of organization in the process. For instance, there could be 20 people who genuinely want to bring a meal, but without someone coordinating who will bring food on this and that day, or if the cancer patient has been left with the burden of communicating with everyone, it probably won’t happen. You can serve as the point person by distributing tasks (i.e. meals, errands, childcare, etc.) amongst volunteers. You can also relieve the patient of endless phone calls by being the person who gives regular updates about their status via phone or social media.
Offer Practical Help
Along with being the volunteer coordinator, offer to help your friend or family member by doing practical everyday things. Present them with a list of daily errands and chores you’re willing to do, ask what will help the most, and try to remain flexible. It may surprise you how big of a difference it can make to mow the lawn, go grocery shopping, do the laundry, or pick the kids up from school. Help them get set up with helpful services such as a dog walker, cleaning service, or grocery delivery. Chemotherapy is notorious for making patients forgetful, so you can even set up medication and appointment reminders for them on their virtual assistant. Taking care of the little things that pile up will bring them peace of mind and allow them to focus on their healing.
Another area where you can be a big help is by assisting your loved one comb through the mountains of paperwork and information regarding different treatments and clinical trials. After all, your loved one is probably feeling overwhelmed not just by all the physical changes but also by all the terminology, medical information, and complicated options swirling around them — so offering a fresh option and a pair of eyes to help is a great asset.
Accompany Them During Treatment
One of the most beneficial ways to help your loved one through cancer treatment is to go through it with them. You first want to make sure they are getting the best treatment possible by helping them research options and look for second opinions. It’s important to hold them accountable to their prescribed painkiller dosage because it can easily lead to addiction, which is the last thing you want for your loved one in cancer treatment. Also, accompanying them during doctor visits, tests, screenings, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy infusion can alleviate some of the boredom and feelings of isolation that come with long hours in the waiting room. Furthermore, you can ask questions and take notes at the appointments to ensure the doctor’s directions are clear and recorded.
Support their exploration of supplemental treatment options as well. For example, Ayurveda, which is the ancient science of healing through the balance of mind, body, and spirit, is shown to have benefits to those undergoing cancer treatment. By limiting stress, eating right, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and achieving a sense of mindfulness, your flow of energy (referred to as Doshas) will be in sync, enabling your body’s natural defense mechanism to kick in.
Do Fun Things Together
While organizing volunteers, doing practical daily tasks, and joining your loved one for treatments are major ways to help, sometimes you just need to do something fun. Go for a walk, go to the movies, go shopping, go to a ball game — do anything you both enjoy. Sometimes, they might need to vent their anger, sadness, and fears. Other times, they may want to laugh and talk about things unrelated to cancer. Talk it over with your loved one, pencil in moments for quality time, and make it a priority. The most important thing is to constantly reinforce the fact that you’re there for them through and through.
While there may be no words to suffice for a diagnosis like cancer, there are ways in which you can help a loved one who’s going through treatment. Arranging volunteer tasks and assisting with daily obligations are some of the most practical ways to help. Helping them choose treatments and accompanying them on doctor visits are powerful ways to show them they’re not alone. Of course, it’s also important to take a break from the doctor and do something fun, as this can be a refreshing activity for you to do together.
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