A diagnosis of cancer can be a life-changing event. An individual may have many questions about their health, their ability to function and their futures. Loved ones can be a critical resource for love, understanding, and support during this difficult time. If a member of your family has been diagnosed with cancer, you can provide the emotional and practical help they need by following a few simple tips.

– Educate Yourself

Most people are not conversant in the language of medical care and cancer treatment until someone close to them receives a cancer diagnosis. You can provide more meaningful support if you take the time to educate yourself about cancer and its treatment, through online sites and printed materials. This information will help you to understand what your loved one is going through, both emotionally and physically during treatment.

In addition, each type of cancer may have a different type and length of treatment. Breast cancer may require surgery, prostate cancer may utilize hormone therapy, and liver cancer may use implanted pellets that emit radiation to kill cancer cells. If you have educated yourself about the particular type of cancer, you will more easily understand treatment options and will be able to support your loved one’s treatment decisions more easily.

– Be Sensitive to Shifting Energy Patterns

Individuals dealing with cancer and its treatment may have good days and bad days. On good days, they may feel optimistic about their prognosis and may have the energy to take care of work duties or do some socializing. On bad days, they may feel low in energy, fatigued, with a negative outlook. Be there to serve, but also know when to get out of the way when the individual prefers to go about their usual lives.

– Be the Conduit to the Outside World

As someone close to the individual dealing with cancer, you can provide an invaluable service by helping to maintain a normal perspective on life. This entails maintaining normal contacts with friends and neighbors who may be unsure about how much contact is appropriate. Similarly, you can offer news about the neighborhood, the city and the world to divert your loved one, to prevent the focus always being on cancer and treatment.

– Be a Good Listener

Being a good support system means you should be available to listen to your loved one as they work through the difficult task of dealing with emotional issues involved in cancer. They may have fears about mortality, financial concerns, worries about younger family members. You don’t always have to have an opinion or a solution for these issues. Just being there to listen can be of enormous help to the individual. Simply acknowledge their feelings and try to be positive about outcomes.

Dealing with cancer can be an intensely emotional and physically exhausting experience. Your role as a support system for a family member is a critical one and one that can make a big difference in their quality of life as they undergo treatment. These tips will serve to support their physical, psychological and social well being as they work their way toward recovery.

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