24.06.2024

How to support a loved one who is facing cancer

On the day of the fight against breast cancer, we tell you how you can help your loved ones in a difficult situation. -stolknulsja-s-onkologiej-9df1973.jpg” alt=”How to support a loved one who has faced cancer” />

Anastasia Budumyan Oncopsychologist, Supervisor of Peer Consultants in Oncology of the Alexandra Women's Support Fund and expert of the information project # need to talk.

How to support with words

Talking about illness is a difficult process for both parties. It is not clear where to start and what phrases to choose to help a person, and not hurt him.

Do not rush to talk

If a person only found out about his diagnosis, then, most likely, he is confused and depressed. It is unlikely that a loved one will be immediately ready to discuss what happened – he will need some time to be alone and recover a little.

In this case, do not pull it, do not try to stir it up and do not force it to talk. After all, you also need time to digest what happened. While a person understands himself, try to learn more about the disease, try to formulate your own emotions and imagine the feelings of a loved one. And when he opens a little to you, you will be ready.

Remind that you are with him

It is not at all necessary to have long conversations in order to slightly alleviate the condition of a person. Use the simplest phrases: “I'm with you”, “I'm there”, “Tell me if I can help in any way”. Let them know that you are here and always ready to listen.

If you do not have the opportunity to see a person in person or talk to him, you should first write words of support in the messenger. Promise to come and be around whenever the chance arises. Be sure to tell your loved one that you are constantly thinking about him and expect to see him as soon as possible.

Sometimes the simplest words are the most important.

Let them speak out

When a loved one is ready to discuss what happened with you, remember: now your feelings are secondary, let him speak. The person will surely be overwhelmed with emotions. Anger, fear, panic, despair, confusion – be prepared for anything and do not leave, even if it will be very painful and difficult for you yourself. You must endure an explosion of anger, wait out a stream of tears, listen to the words of resentment and let in all the anxiety of a loved one.

Of course, this will not change what happened, but even such a simple discharge will briefly alleviate a person’s condition.

Repeat that you will always love a person

There is a threat that a person will begin to doubt not only his own future, but also in the love of loved ones. For example, he will think that no one will soon want to see or accept him, so exhausted and tired. Always, always remind me that this is not the case. You love not for beautiful hair or gorgeous muscles, you just love him.

People are afraid not only of death, but also of loneliness. Don't let your loved one dwell on it.

Try to be honest

Unfortunately, a bad diagnosis or a gloomy prognosis cannot be hidden by deceit. At least for a long time – a person will know about it anyway. Therefore, try not to deceive your loved one and do not promise the impossible. Discuss your shared fears and feelings honestly and carefully.

Talk about the future

You need to remember that cancer is not the end, and remind your loved ones of this. And the easiest way to keep from forgetting that the disease can be defeated is to make plans. When you feel that a person is ready to get a little distracted and discuss something extraneous, take a chance.

It is not necessary to plan things for years ahead – it is only important to make you feel that life goes on. If possible, discuss going to the movies next weekend or going to the park. Goals do not have to be big, the main thing is that they be.

How to help with deeds

Words are not always enough.

Be close

Try not to leave your loved one alone for a long time. At such moments, it is not necessary to talk – you can just sit nearby and hold the person's hand. If he doesn't mind, hug him sometimes. Body contact is very important.

If possible, start working remotely or take a vacation to be together more often, especially at first. So you can at least soften the terrible feeling of loneliness that a person can have.

Keep calm

Cancer is a very scary diagnosis. Therefore, strong emotions are inevitable. But you can’t indulge in panic or fear for too long, because the life of a sick person largely depends on your calmness. It is you who will console your loved one, solve practical issues and deal with all the troubles. And in a state of constant hysteria, this will not work.

Organize treatment

It’s scary to go through clinics and doctors alone, it’s even scarier to understand incomprehensible diagnoses, directions, requirements and procedures. Faced with a disease, a person does not know where to go, who to turn to and what rights he has. Take this difficult process on yourself.

To begin with, do not forget that oncology is treated under the CHI policy. Once the diagnosis has been made, then there is a referral from the doctor. Read this document – so you will understand where to go next. Also remember that with the results of examinations, you can independently contact an oncologist. The main thing is that you organize all the processes: making an appointment for an examination, collecting the necessary documents, registering at the hospital, and so on.

In addition to planning, it is important to go to the doctors together with your loved ones, and not send him alone. A person will not only be very worried, but may not remember all the information due to stress. Try to find time to help your loved one with these difficult and very unpleasant procedures.

Unobtrusively help

It is important to free a person from household chores as much as possible so that he is less tired. First, ask how you can help. If a loved one names something specific, then immediately get down to business.

Remember: a person should not feel helpless. Therefore, do not forbid him to do anything, but engage in a dialogue.

But if the person skips the question or refuses, start small. For example, with things that you should have done anyway, but either forgot or ignored on purpose. After the first step, it will be easier: try to gradually take on certain responsibilities. If everything goes well, you will be able to quietly do most household chores.

Doing nice things without asking

This will not relieve anxiety or fear, but it may at least cheer up a person for a while. The actions themselves can be anything: from delivering delicious food to your home to an expensive purchase. Arrange surprises, buy your favorite desserts or exotic fruits, which you used to be sorry to spend money on.

What to do if a person refuses to be treated

Do not rush and do not impose your opinion. To get started, try to talk to your loved one about his feelings and the reasons for this decision. It is important that this dialogue does not gradually turn into an argument. You don't have to convince the person – you have to understand him. Only by understanding the motivation, you can try to change something. Therefore, try to see refusal as a choice that has the right to exist.

If a person feels that you understand his emotions and accept his decision, then he may be a little more open to dialogue. In this case, talk about your experiences. Explain how much you are afraid of losing him, how much he is dear to you and how grateful you will be if he even thinks about the possibility of treatment. Do not push or push, focus on your own feelings – the final decision is not yours, but you have the right to explain yourself.

Then it remains only to hope that the person will hear you. If he's willing to talk more, try convincing him that cancer isn't necessarily a death sentence. And seizing even the slightest chance to survive is worth at least for your sake.

What actions can only harm

Individual words and actions that seem to be a way of support can hurt. Even if you have good intentions, don't:

  • Say “I understand you” or “I understand how you feel.” If you are not a cancer patient, then such words of support will only devalue the experiences of a loved one.
  • Promise that everything will be fine. Unfortunately, you do not know whether it will be possible to defeat the disease or not, and the person understands this very well. Such phrases are more likely to annoy, rather than soothe.
  • Grieving, making a mournful face and in other ways showing that everything is bad. Talking about your experiences is important, but you definitely shouldn’t scare a person even more. He is already scared.
  • Pretend that nothing is happening, ignore the fact of the disease. Sometimes you want to forget about what happened and imagine yourself in an ideal world, but a loved one will not be able to forget about the diagnosis even for a minute.
  • To be offended if your help is rejected. Care and attention are important, but respect for the feelings of another is no less valuable. If a person wants to be alone or to cope with something on his own, give him this opportunity.
  • “Disable” a loved one. Of course, you want to do everything for him, but you need to know the measure in everything. To defeat the disease, it is important that a person does not stop fighting. Do not deprive him of faith in himself.
  • Force him to be treated. Pressure will only cause resistance.