Learning that someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer can wreak havoc on your emotions. You might experience overwhelm, anger, depression, or any combination of these feelings. While everyone processes this news differently, the best thing you can do for your loved one is to remain hopeful and supportive throughout their journey to recovery.
Here are some ways to show your support without overstepping boundaries.
Let them decide when it’s time to talk about it.
A common frustration among cancer patients is the feeling that their diagnosis has taken over their life or identity. While there will be days where your loved one may not feel well enough to presume everyday activities, the person with cancer is still a person; still themselves. It’s important that you maintain normalcy in your relationship rather than bringing their diagnosis into every conversation. Even small doses of regularity can serve as a reminder that not all hope is lost.
Unless you’re a world-renowned oncologist, chances are your loved one doesn’t expect you to have the answers. What they need from you, more than anything, is someone to confide in about what they’re going through. They don’t need you to fully understand what they’re going through; just to be there for the ride. Instead of chiming in with solutions or unsolicited advice, show your support by actively listening and reminding them how much you care.
Don’t minimize or compare.
While it’s tempting to comfort your loved one by whatever means necessary, it isn’t helpful to say things like, “At least you have the good kind of cancer.” or “Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine!” These kinds of statements are dismissive of what your friend is going through, and can cause feelings of alienation. After all, cancer of any type or level is very serious.
One of the best ways that you can be involved in your loved one’s recovery is by researching and understanding their disease. In addition to showing your dedication, this will better prepare you to care for them. By reading up on the potential symptoms, treatments, and side effects your friend may experience, you are immersing yourself in their world, making you better equipped to handle what’s to come.
Share encouraging stories.
While you don’t want to barrage your friend with story after story about cancer remission, don’t be afraid to share particularly uplifting articles or videos. Cancer comes with a great deal of uncertainty, and inspirational stories can provide a glimmer of hope when it’s needed. And remember – hope comes in all forms, so don’t limit yourself to sending things solely related to cancer. Positivity is a powerful tool in recovery!
Extend a helping hand.
With the stress (both physically and mentally) of cancer, it can be difficult to handle life’s speed bumps. For some, asking for help is challenging, and they may end up with more on their plate than they can handle. If there’s something you can do to help – whether it’s child care, running errands, or even preparing a meal – your support won’t go unnoticed and can offer your friend a sense of relief. If finances are a concern when it comes to treatment, another great way to show your support is by arranging a fundraiser or crowdfunding campaign to raise money.
There are so many ways to demonstrate your love and loyalty to a friend in need. By following these basic guidelines, you can show that you’re in your loved one’s corner without causing additional stress, embarrassment, or frustration.