Supporting a Loved One with Cancer: Things You Should Know

You recalled the time when you learned that your friend’s mother had GBM or glioblastoma multiforme, one of the more aggressive types of brain cancer. You were sad and tried to show not only support but also empathy. But your life didn’t have to revolve around that circumstance 24/7. Your friend’s life did. You would listen to all her stories about how daily routines had changed for everyone, like adjusting the schedule of errands outside the house or how the kitchen cabinets in Salt Lake City are stocked with food for cancer patients.

You and your wife just came from a visit to a hospital in Salt Lake City. Following a regular screening, doctors found early signs of breast cancer. You felt like a gigantic crack on the ground has swallowed you. You hugged your wife after hearing the news, and you softly whispered to her, “All would be well.” You suddenly find yourself in the same position as your friend, whose mom just died of cancer. How did she go through it, you wondered. How will you go through it?

Here are a few things you should consider when caring for a loved one with cancer:

An Overview of Cancer in America

The estimate is that more than 1.7 million people were diagnosed with cancer in America in 2018. The resulting death toll came to nearly 610,000 people. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer found in women. Skin cancer is number one. About 41,800 women die of breast cancer every year.

Cancer incidence is more than four for every 1,000. More men die of cancer than women. Women who are at risk of breast cancer must go through screening by the time they’re 40, and mammograms must be done annually.

woman with cancer smiling

Supporting a Loved One

Routines will change, as your friend told you. It’s going to be a lot of adjustments for everyone. Patience, empathy, and maybe a little laughter despite the situation will help. Here are a few more things to note when supporting and caring for a loved one with cancer.

  1. Healthy communication. It’s a life-threatening disease, and so the least that anyone around a cancer patient should do is not to pass judgment. Listening sincerely to your loved one is crucial. There will be mood swings or maybe even irrational behavior. Engage in a positive conversation without sounding all too gung-ho on the positivity. Them knowing that you’re always there to listen already a big step toward healing.
  2. Maintain the household. Yes, schedules can change, but functions around the house need to continue—cleaning, cooking, doing the laundry, paying the bills, or grocery shopping. Make sure that you remain committed and focused on attending to these things on top of the care you give for your loved one. Accept offers from friends to help. If there’s a budget, find a professional caregiver so that you can continue to manage the household properly.
  3. The treatment duties. Immediately scout for the best treatment facility you can find for your loved one. Make sure that you don’t end up in some bogus treatment center. Part of your responsibility is to accompany her to follow up consultations and other treatments. Though they can smile as they go through the procedure, they still suffer from anxiety and sadness. A comforting, familiar face always helps.

You have to educate yourself about the disease so that you will at least know the physical and emotional pain they’re going through. Amidst this all, you also need to take care of yourself. You being healthy means you can give more to your loved one.

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