Caring for Someone with Cancer – How to be as Supportive as Possible

By on January 29, 2020

Caring for and supporting someone living with cancer is never easy. It is testing on both an emotional and physical level and no matter how much of yourself you give; you can often feel as though you aren’t doing enough.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for caring for someone with cancer, as there are many variables that can affect the needs of the dependent party. What you should always remember, however, is that caring is a team effort and you should never try to take on such a task all by yourself.

Establishing a Network

If you do find yourself as the primary caregiver for someone, you will likely still need to master juggling different tasks and responsibilities. As well as being there for the person you are caring for, your own life continues with work, family and other obligations going on as normal – you can soon feel overwhelmed by it all.

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That is why it is important to establish a network of people who will be there not only for the person who needs to be cared for, but also for each other. Cancer affects everyone in different ways, including those who are close to someone diagnosed with the disease as well as the patient themselves. It is an incredibly stressful time but it’s important to remember the ‘support in, dump out’ rule, in which you never offload to anyone closer to the cause of stress than yourself, in this case, the patient, instead only offering support. 

As the primary caregiver, you need to know that you can have time away from your caring duties without feeling guilty for doing so. If you do not allow yourself time for yourself, even in such circumstances, you can suffer from stress-induced illnesses. To be as supportive as you can be, you must ensure that you are able to offer the level care that is required and, if you are suffering from stress and/or exhaustion, this is not possible.

CancerSee Past the Cancer

Do not allow cancer to become the be-all and end-all of who they are as they are still the same person they were before the diagnosis. The last thing they want is to be seen solely as a cancer patient, especially by their nearest and dearest – it’s key to remain as positive and upbeat as you can be.

Encourage the person you are caring for to engage in an activity (although be mindful of any limitation due to their health and any treatment they are undergoing). This can be something as simple as going for a walk outside, playing a video game or just simply socializing with friends and family – anything that takes their mind, as well as yours, away from their illness.

Understanding the Treatment

It is no secret that when someone undergoes cancer treatment there is a wide range of side-effects that can be shocking and upsetting, both for the patient and those around them. As a caregiver, you should educate yourself on the type of treatment they will be undergoing and what the possibilities are.

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Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are two of the most common forms of treatments for patients, whilst proton beam therapy has also been introduced in the United Kingdom in recent years. Each different type of treatment is designed to tackle cancer cells in different ways, thus having various effects on the patient. By familiarizing yourself with the anticipated side effects and how patients generally react, you can make sure you are best placed to offer the care and support that is needed.

Caring for anyone, whether they are a cancer patient or not, is a great responsibility and it does take someone special to be able to do it. If you are currently caring for someone, you can reach the following places for advice and support:

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Caring for Someone with Cancer – How to be as Supportive as Possible