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When you have a loved one who is suffering with cancer, such a difficult and painful time can feel overwhelming -- for both of you. Even with treatment, many forms of cancer are aggressive and can take weeks or months of care before symptoms are reduced enough for the survivor to feel any relief. Being there for your loved one as a support system and assistant can help immensely, in part because they may not have the strength to carry out daily tasks that are easier for you.
There are so many ways to be a support system for your loved one, and all of them will help ease the burden of what can be a devastating illness. From taking care of household chores to keeping them company during chemotherapy, look for little ways you can make life easier for your loved one with cancer. Keep reading for some great tips from Stem Cell Clinic on how to get started.
Help Around the House
One of the most frustrating aspects of cancer and its treatment is the decrease in energy it causes, as well as physical symptoms such as nausea and body pain. This can make performing even simple tasks, such as putting away groceries, monumental chores, so look for ways you can help your loved one around the house. Offering to bring over dinner, clean the kitchen, or do laundry can be a huge help and will allow them to save their energy for other things. Basically, your goal is to optimize your loved one’s home to make it as positive as possible.
Attend Doctor’s Appointments
Going to various doctor’s appointments, learning about treatment options, and remembering which questions to ask can be overwhelming for cancer survivors, so it helps to have someone there who can act as an assistant and take notes. Many forms of cancer require several different medications per day, many of them with different side effects, so it’s imperative to stay organized and keep track of everything the doctor says. Because of the highly addictive nature of opioids, it’s also imperative to be mindful of accidental abuse of these drugs.
Look for Alternative Treatments
While there are several treatment options for cancer survivors that include medication and chemotherapy, as well as clinical trials that are definitely worth looking into, there are also several alternative treatments that take a more holistic approach -- meaning treatment for the mind, body, and soul.
These might include practices like acupuncture, or a daily routine that involves yoga and meditation. While there is no one cure for cancer, it’s important to remember that these alternative practices can sometimes have significant advantages for individuals who are living with the disease.
Just make sure your loved one is aware of the risks and isn’t hanging all their hopes on one treatment. “It would be foolhardy for someone diagnosed with cancer to go exclusively to an alternative clinic. You get one shot at treating cancer effectively. Don’t take chances with that,” says Dr. Barrie Cassileth of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Visit When They Need You
Cancer can be a very lonely illness to go through. Your loved one may be feeling isolated, especially while they endure chemotherapy treatment. Offer to visit or sit with them when they want company, but be sure to ask first; they may feel too tired to carry on a conversation. Sometimes, they may want someone there as they fall asleep; bring a book and sit quietly so they can rest easy. Simply being present can be hugely helpful to someone who is fighting an illness.
Helping a loved one who is going through cancer treatment can be fraught with stress and anxiety for both of you, so it’s important to take care of yourself during the process. Practice self-care when possible, and keep communication open with your loved one so you can stay on top of their needs.
It’s hard to see a loved one suffer. Luckily, there are many things we can do to help, both physically and mentally. Also, never forget that just by being there, you are demonstrating your love and lending them your strength.