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Ideas on How You Can Support a Family Member Going Through Chemo

by Reggie Moore Professional writer and proto entrepreneur

When your loved one has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, you may be at a loss of words on what to say to them or how to be there for them. Cancer takes a toll on both the victim and the family of the victim. It can be overwhelming to think about the best ways to be there for them through all the treatment sessions while spending quality time with them in a way that is not smothering or making them feel worse.

Cancer patients have different experiences since people have different coping mechanisms for hardship, so try and read their mood and adjust accordingly. Many of them do not like to be forced to talk about it, so try to keep the conversation light and talk about regular everyday things while you wait for them to talk about it. Listed below are ideas on how you can support a family member going through chemo.

Offering Them Emotional Support

As mentioned earlier, cancer can be hard on both the patient and the family. However, it is harder on the patient. The first thing you can do is to offer your family member emotional support. Doing this can improve their quality of life by showing them that you care and that they aren’t alone. You will probably not know what to say to make them feel better, because there is no specific word combination out there that fixes peoples’ feelings. So, don’t feel obligated to find the perfect words to make their worries go away. It won’t happen.

Avoid telling them you know how they feel or how hard it is because unless you are a cancer victim, you do not. Even if you are a cancer survivor, your experience is not going to be exactly the same. Try not to compare their situation to that of another person with cancer or ask them to “be positive” and “stay strong.” Trite sentiments on positivity are easy, but meaningful support is hard, and hard things are worth doing right.

Instead, here are a few tips you can employ to provide them with emotional support.

  • Keep your relationship balanced and regular like it used to be before they got cancer
  • Don’t act like nothing is wrong, and find ways to show support that is honest about the hardship without dwelling on it
  • Laugh and share jokes with them whenever it is appropriate
  • Be supportive throughout the process, and if you can, offer to sit and be with them when they undergo chemo (this may be hard during quarantine, so check with their doctor)
  • Listen whenever they want to talk and let them know you will always make time to be there for them
  • Call or text them, send a card or flowers with a note to let them know you are thinking about them regularly
  • Please give them a hug or a friendly squeeze whenever you are with them (as appropriate)
  • If they would like privacy or they do not want to talk about their cancer, respect that

Offering Them Practical Support

Offering your family member who is going through chemo practical support is essential. Always check in on them and inquire if they need help with anything. Sometimes they may not accept your help because they would like to stay independent, which is understandable. Do not take it to heart and let them know that you will be available if they ever need help. Ensure that you are available to help if you have given them your word. Think of gifts you can give them like chemo head wraps for hair loss or wigs to help them feel more comfortable in their changed circumstances. Their physical needs are going to change and be more dependent on others.

Listed below are a few ways in which you can offer practical support.

  • Before you visit, always ask if they are in the mood for a visit because they may be feeling too sick
  • Take them food and stay and have a conversation (as appropriate)
  • Offer to do their house shopping if they are not able to do it
  • Drive them to their appointments and blood tests
  • Help with the laundry, cleaning, and if they have pets take them out for a walk
  • Make meals they can put in the freezer or quickly warm and eat
  • Offer to run some of the errands they cannot run
  • Remember that being on chemotherapy means their immune systems are weakened, so only visit or help if you are 100% healthy since even a small cold could turn deadly for them

Be a Good Listener

Active listening is so important in tough situations like these. So, try your best to listen. A good listener will be aware of another person's feelings and thoughts and will keep the focus on them. Eliminate distractions like your phone or TV screens while you talk together. You do not need to offer advice or answers. All you must do is sit there and listen to their worries and concerns. Be present and listen to everything they have to say or talk about, do not interject unless necessary. Listening is also a great way of providing them emotional support. Listed below are tips on how you can be a good listener.

  • Maintain eye contact when they are talking but ensure that you are not staring
  • It is okay to sit in silence. You do not always have to talk
  • Do not offer unsolicited advice, preach “cures” that aren’t proven to work, or try to be the doctor you aren’t
  • A gentle hand squeeze can go a long way. If they pull away, do not take it personally.
  • Let them do the talking and avoid interrupting to give your input.
  • Only use humor when they use it
  • Pay full attention to what they are saying
  • Do not try to cheer them up when they cry, instead, reassure them
  • Try not to change the subject if you find it upsetting, because it is better to feel uncomfortable than to regret not being there

Getting diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment is tough. It would be best to offer them all the love and support you can safely do so they do not feel alone. Do not feel sorry for a family member going through chemo or let the challenge and discomfort that the situation creates overcome your desire to be there for them. Be present and employ the above-listed tips. No matter the outcome, you’ll feel better knowing you did what you could to really be there when it mattered the most.


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About Reggie Moore Freshman   Professional writer and proto entrepreneur

6 connections, 0 recommendations, 22 honor points.
Joined APSense since, April 22nd, 2021, From Lehi, United States.

Created on Apr 23rd 2021 11:14. Viewed 256 times.

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