Five Ways for Loved Ones of Cancer Patients to Cope Better
by Guest Writer Marcus Clarke, BSc, MSc.
When someone you love and care for, whether it be a family member or a friend, is diagnosed with cancer, it can be very difficult to accept the changes they go through. A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience that can leave you feeling anxious, stressed out and worried. Coping with such changes can be very difficult, and it can reach a point that you cannot control stress and succumb to depression. This article contains several ways that can help you cope better if you have a loved one who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
1. Relax and Stay Calm
If you can relax and stay calm, your loved one will remain calmer than if you actively show you are stressed out. Although you might become emotional sometimes, learning to relax will significantly help you to cope. You have to accept that you cannot control the situation, and the best thing you can do is to give hope and encouragement to your loved one. If your stress reflects onto your loved one, the stress can actually lead to a worsening of their physical symptoms. So it’s important to be positive as much as you can, to be calm and relaxed for your own good as well as your loved one.
Always focus on the facts and avoid living with the fear of losing your loved one. Try to be optimistic and believe that everything happens for a reason. Cancer is different from person to person, and is not necessarily a death sentence. Treatments are improving all the time over what they were years ago, and there are many things the cancer patient can do for themselves which will help to increase their survival time and even to be cured. It is thus imperative to stay positive and hope for the best.
3. Accompany Them to Doctor Appointments
Although you might feel emotional when you accompany your loved one to physician’s appointments, this is the best way you can help them cope better. This is important because your loved one needs support and might be overwhelmed by the medical tests and emotional upheaval due to these sudden changes in health and life. Offering support to them will help you understand their fear and help them overcome that fear.
4. Ask Questions
Do not be afraid to ask the doctor any question that is bugging you. If you think that you might forget the questions, write them down on a piece of paper. Asking questions helps you to be informed and understand the facts about the cancer that your loved one has been diagnosed with. You can even research about the type of cancer your loved one has so that you know more. Having a better understanding will help you manage your own stress and cope better.
5. Be Ready for Changes
Your loved one may be taking medications and/or chemotherapy or other treatments related to their cancer, and they can become stressed and moody. So be ready for mood swings, stress, and any discomfort that your loved one might go through. Support them as much as you can, talk to them openly and encourage them. This will help them cope with the diagnosis and treatments, and at the same time, you will come to terms with the fact that they have cancer and the best way to help is through offering support.
There are so many other ways that you can cope better, but the most important one is accepting that some events are out of your control. Try to get plenty of sleep, eat regularly and avoid drugs or alcohol. By doing this, you will have the courage to face the situation and be there for your loved one.
Marcus Clarke has a degree in psychology, a masters degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci, a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources that are interesting and insightful and often help people on the right track to improving their lives.
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