Providing support for a loved one who has been diagnosed is often a highly emotional and confronting challenge.
Supporting roles can range from being a full-time carer to just doing your best to be there for a friend when you can.
One of the most powerful things that you can do when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer is to simply be present. People often worry about imposing on someone when they have just received such emotional news, however the impact of texts or social media messages are insignificant in comparison to the value of a shoulder to cry on.
The news of a cancer diagnosis is best defined as a shockwave to the core of your loved one’s life, so when present simply listen. Provide them with an outlet to express their emotion.
Those who have received a cancer diagnosis are often bombarded with questions from doctors to well-wishers. The most common question they’re asked is “how can I help?”
The feeling of helplessness associated with not being able to do everyday tasks such as mow the lawn can often lead to patients feeling guilty about routinely asking others to do these tasks on their behalf. So instead of asking “how can I help?” simply suggest “I can help with that” and take on tasks such as mowing the lawn to make your loved one's life easier.
It's important for carers and friends to be aware that their relationships with their loved ones may change after a cancer diagnosis. They may witness their loved one progress through numerous stages of emotional instability, anger at one moment and depression at the next. This can place difficulty upon your relationship and it is perfectly acceptable to become frustrated.
Just like your loved one needs care and support, you’ll need someone to be there for you. A family meeting is often a great strategy to help begin the process of building a support team for both your loved one and yourselves. Tasks can be shared between family members and you can take the time to allow yourself a break from being a carer.
Asking for help is often a daunting prospect and something we can often feel guilty about doing so, but caring for someone with a cancer diagnosis is a team effort.
Help and support is integral to the life of a carer and calling the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 to find out what services are available is strongly recommended.
If you need immediate support please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.
08 November 2018