The diagnosis of cancer for a loved can be very difficult to comprehend and deal with; the caring physicians and staff at Progressive Care S.C. in Chicago understand the concerns and are dedicated to providing quality and compassionate care to adults undergoing cancer treatment. Progressive Care S.C. takes a comprehensive approach to providing a team of care givers to support the patient through all aspects of treatment.
If you have recently gone through the unsettling experience of a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, you probably have many thoughts and questions regarding their condition and treatment. Here are some suggestions from the experienced oncology team on ways you can help to support and care for your loved one during their chemotherapy treatment.
#1: Be There Even if You Don’t Know What to Say
Many times when people are experiencing a difficult illness such as cancer, their friends and family may distance themselves because they don’t know what the “right” thing is to say. The best advice medical care teams have is to simply be present. It’s more important to be physically present as a source of support than it is to worry exactly what to say. You shouldn’t feel the need to try and make “everything ok” since that is not possible. You can however be a source of support to help with social, emotional and spiritual healing. You can also let your loved one know they can be themselves around you and not feel the added pressure of staying strong for your benefit. Just being there as a shoulder to cry on can be a tremendous relief to someone dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Don’t forget that laughter can also be the best medicine. Remaining positive, keeping things light and comfortable provides a source of light and hope during a difficult time.
#2: Being Supportive During Chemotherapy Treatment
When it comes time for treatment, it is important to understand there are many types of chemo treatments that vary from an IV administered at a hospital facility, to an at home treatment, or even pills. Talk with the doctor and then do some research on exactly what type of chemotherapy treatment your loved one will receive.
The physicians at Progressive Care S.C. are more than willing to take the necessary time to consult with patients and families to give them a clear understanding of the treatment process. As a supportive friend or family member, understanding the treatment in advance will help you to know what side-effects to expect in terms of hair loss, nausea, etc. This will help you to remain strong and supportive to your loved one during their treatment. Research has shown that patients attending treatment with a supportive partner tend to remain more upbeat throughout the process. You should offer to attend with your loved one, depending on their preference this may be a great source of comfort.
#3: Giving Get Well Gifts
Often in times of sickness it is common to give get well gifts. These can include gift baskets filled with the patient’s favorite items, balloons, flowers, thoughtful cards, or even favorite food items. Many cancer survivors report that receiving a card of phone call after each chemo therapy treatment was a thoughtful gesture that made them feel loved and remembered.
Often times loved ones of someone undergoing chemo therapy will try to be thoughtful by preparing a favorite meal for the patient. Doctors recommend keeping in mind that certain drugs can affect appetite and certain food items may cause adverse reactions due to taste and texture. Although good nutrition is important during treatment, try not to get upset if your loved one seems more picky than usual in terms of food during the process.
#4: Offering Hands-on Help
Being a source of emotional support is important, but it is equally important to make sure your loved one has day-to-day help with physical needs. They may need assistance grocery shopping, making sure bills are paid, cleaning the house, or taking care of children or pets. Since these needs may change from day to day, try to be flexible as much as possible when offering help. Also, it is often difficult for people to accept help even when they need it. So rather than offering general help try to anticipate needs and be specific in how you can assist.
Offering to provide transportation to chemo treatments can also be a very supportive gesture. Progressive Care’s oncology team offers treatment centers that are convenient to a patient’s home, family, and circle of support to help make the process as comfortable as possible.
#5: Taking Care of Yourself
It is so important for caregivers to take care of themselves so they have the physical and emotional strength to continue to support their loved one. It is important to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and get exercise. This will help your own well-being and also help you to deal with anxiety surrounding your loved one’s diagnosis. You may even be able to participate in some of these activities with your loved one, such as a light walk. This provides a mental break from thinking about the cancer treatment and can be a great time to connect and bond on other levels.
When being a source of support to a loved one with cancer, it is important to deal with your own feelings too. Try to come to terms with your own fears, so you can truly be supportive to your loved one. Additionally, as much as actions show support, don’t forget to express your feelings in words. Simply sharing an “I love you” or a verbal message of appreciation will remind your loved one that they are special to you. Finally, sometimes being a source of support means respecting your loved one’s wishes for time and space to process their feelings alone. This is a natural part of grieving the illness, just be mindful of the suggestions above and make sure your loved one knows you are there for them.