In today’s world almost everyone knows someone who’s had some sort of cancer and maybe overcome it or succumbed to it. But most often we may not be aware of everything that a cancer patient goes through.
To show your care for such patients, it is helpful if you get to know what their daily life looks like, including certain things they may not reveal. If you take certain cues from these patients, you may be able to help them during the hard days of cancer.
Offer right help
Rather than asking the patient what kind of help they want, let us try to make some concrete suggestion like, “Can I bring you some dinner today?” or “Do you want me to accompany you on your next doctor visit?” as well you can call and ask whether you can pick up some grocery for the patient. The theory is that when someone has a serious condition like cancer they many not want to ask for help but would really appreciate if someone steps up without asking.
If one of your relation or a co-worker had the same type of cancer as the person now you are talking to, try not to bring it up. Cancer is a complicated ailment and no two people will have the same kind of emotional or physical experiences. Your only task is to listen to the patient carefully and they’ll appreciate you for that.
The thought of cancer itself can be overwhelming and you may not always be comfortable in talking about it. It must be the same with the patient. So it always means a lot even if you don’t have anything to say, to just drop an email or send a card. Try talking about a recent book you read, a movie you saw or some food you tried at a new restaurant, this will break the ice and keep you connected.
Try to be there
If you happen to be in the vicinity, offer to go to the doctor’s appointment with the patient or read for them. This will be more appreciated by someone who does not have the family near them. Therapies like chemotherapy infusions take hours together and a person is not supposed to drive back home, you can offer to drive them home after a therapy session for which you will be greatly thanked.
Call and enquire
Just as you would do while visiting a friend’s house, call up and ask whether you can come over to meet the patient. Your friend might be getting ready for a nap or will be sick that day. The patient may have a doctor’s appointment and may not be available at home. Please make a call prior to your arrival and let the patient know of your visit.
Touch, a powerful option
A touch is always reassuring even for normal healthy person; similarly it is very important for a cancer patient. Offer a huge hug or a lighter one as the patient prefers because cancer can often involve lot of physical pain and strain and a wide range of side effects from medications. The patient will thus happily accept a hand massage or a back rub, but proceed only after getting permission from the patient.
Don’t give medical advice
Cancer patients will greatly appreciate if you ask them how the treatment is going or show your support. Take care not to make any suggestions of alternative medicines and remember someone else’s plan may not work in this case. We can encourage the patient to open up about their concerns and fears to their doctor.