Do’s and Don’ts of Living with a Cancer Patient

patient and nurse in a room

It is not easy to live with a cancer patient. The person is always in and out of the hospital or cancer center, and their moods are all over the place due to the disease and the treatment. There is never any peace or calm in the home. It takes a lot of patience and strength to deal with all of this. Everyone’s experience is different but if you find this scenario similar to yours, here are some tips to hopefully make life easier for the both of you.

patient and the doctor having a consultation

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

If the patient is comfortable enough to share his or her diagnosis with you, then it’s alright if you don’t know much about cancer. Listen and ask questions as much as you need to in order to understand what they’re going through. Equip yourself with information about their condition through books and research, but avoid Wikipedia because it contains a lot of unverified information.

2. Do offer to help out with work and errands

If they are well enough to get up and move around, find simple tasks for them to do while they rest in between chores. For example, ask if they can fold the laundry or read recipes out loud while you prepare dinner. Additionally, you can run errands for them such as picking up prescriptions and groceries.

3. Don’t take it personally if your loved one doesn’t want you around

Sometimes cancer patients feel better when they’re alone and sometimes they just need space. The best way to know is to ask them, but don’t pester them about it. It’s also not because you are bothering them that they don’t want you around. They just don’t feel like being social because of their condition.

4. Do offer to drive them to their appointments

Cancer patients are usually too tired to drive, or they have lost the use of certain body parts that would otherwise aid in driving. So, it is best if you can find some time to take them where they need to go. If you don’t have a car, you can also ask someone to give them a ride.

5. Don’t expect gratitude

Hearing “thank you” from your loved one may not happen as often as you’d like because they feel grateful all the time for what they have and what people do for them. So don’t take it personally if they forget to say it. They probably just don’t want you to think that they’re taking everything for granted.

6. Do ask how you can help them feel better

Sometimes their bodies are in so much pain, all they really need is a gentle massage or something cold to drink. If possible, find out what would make your loved ones more comfortable and how you can help them through their difficult times.

7. Don’t be afraid to cry with them or in front of them

Cancer is scary and it brings out a lot of emotions that would only make sense if they are truly felt. If your loved one sees you tear up, they will most likely feel the same feeling of sadness but in a different form. So don’t be afraid to cry with them because they will understand that you’re crying for them.

8. Don’t ignore the signs of depression

Even if cancer patients seem like they are in high spirits most of the time, it doesn’t mean that they’re not suffering inside physically and emotionally. They need your company more than any other time because they need someone to be there with them through it all. Don’t ignore the signs or symptoms of depression, mood swings, and irritability. Talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling once in a while because trust me; they will find comfort in knowing that you’re sharing their pain.

9. Do maintain a positive attitude

Sharing a sense of positive energy is the best medicine one can give to anyone, especially those who are suffering from cancer. Refrain from saying things that would make them sad or depressed because it will only make their condition worse. If you have a hard time controlling how you feel, write your feelings down in a journal at first and then find a way to let it out by writing a letter or a story.

10. Don’t ignore your own needs

Take care of yourself, too. Let your own feelings out and don’t bottle it up if you can’t handle everything at once. Find someone who understands how you feel and talk to them about everything that’s going on because it’s perfectly okay if you need to let it all out.

The key is understanding that they may need more time for themselves and less social interaction. If you can learn what makes them feel better during their treatment process, it will help give them the peace of mind they deserve when going through this difficult time in life. Don’t be afraid to cry or share your feelings with your loved one because it’s important not to bottle up emotions when dealing with a serious illness like cancer. Remember, everything will get better if you look at things from a positive perspective.

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