How You Can Support Cancer Patients

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer you may have a million questions running through your head. How should I react? What should I say? How can I help? There are so many different things, we as supporters, can do for our loved ones going through this medical crisis. 

You may find that your loved one’s feelings change from one moment to the next, which is completely normal in response to a diagnosis of cancer. There is a whole range of emotions they may experience including:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Uncertainty
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Isolation
  • Resentment
  • Grief

Below are some common ways to help, however, each person’s wants and needs vary depending on their situation:

  • Stay in Touch with Them – Make sure you visit your loved ones whether they’re at home or in the hospital; showing up is always a good sign of support, however, some may prefer you contact them before you visit
  • Be a Good Listener – Your loved one may want to talk about what they’re going through and their feelings about it, or they may want to get their mind off things and not talk about it at all. You must allow them to talk about what they need to
  • Send a Card – Since everything seems to be mostly digital nowadays, a handwritten card is a sweet gesture that your loved one can save
  • Connect Them With a Community – Many communities are out there that connect and support patients with cancer. Connecting your loved one with a group of others going through the same thing can help them feel as though they are not alone
  • Tell Them How You Can Help – A lot of people may ask a loved one “how can I help?” However, this isn’t something a cancer patient may want to worry about, instead, one can offer help by walking their dog, cleaning around their home, helping with groceries, and more, if you are able
  • Pick Up the Phone – Phone calls can help lift your loved one’s spirits. Constant visitors can be overwhelming, and sometimes a phone call is all they need to feel special without the stress of having company
  • Offer Support at all Stages – It is a natural reaction to offer a lot of support when someone is first diagnosed. However, it is very important to continue to provide support even when their health is improving
  • Help Out Around the House – Keeping the house clean can become more complicated between treatments or trips to the hospital. Offer to take over some typical household duties, as it will give a huge sense of relief for them
  • Go to Chemo with Them – Going to chemo alone can get lonely, keep your loved one company and join them for one or more appointments
  • Bring Their Favorite Food – Indulging in someone’s favorite dish or treat can make anyone’s day a litter brighter. Order takeout from their favorite restaurant or cook their favorite home-made meal
  • Respect Their Boundaries – Showing up and offering support is very important, but be sure to keep in mind that your loved one may also need their space from time to time
  • LOVE THEM – The structure behind all of these suggestions is love. If you spread the love with all of your words and actions, it will truly be felt

Fun Activities for Cancer Patients

Depending on the stage of cancer and what type of cancer your loved one has been diagnosed with there are many things they can participate in, as well as many limitations. In the earlier stages of cancer, it’s easier for your loved one to get out and about and do things like hiking, fruit picking, attending fairs and festivals, going to events like racing, car shows, and more. However, in the later stages, these tasks may be more difficult for your loved ones, so be mindful of their limitations when planning something with them. 

Below are some great adrenaline bucket list items cancer patients may enjoy as long as they can do them:

  • Skydiving
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Bungee jumping
  • Jet ski
  • Try an unfamiliar cuisine at a new-to-them restaurant
  • Go for a road trip
  • Rollercoaster rides
  • Learn to ride a horse
  • White water rafting
  • Kayaking

There are so many things someone can try if they feel up to it. Be supportive of your loved one’s new activities and maybe try to encourage them to try some more!

Things for Cancer Patients to do During Treatments

During chemotherapy, patients are often in the treatment center for a long time depending on their treatment plan. There are many things your loved ones can bring with them to help pass the time during their sessions. Below are some things to help pass time during chemo as well as at home:

  • Reading a Good Book
  • Creating Art
  • Knitting or Other Crafts
  • Journaling
  • Completing a Puzzle
  • Gardening at Home
  • Games and More on a Tablet

Support Your Loved One

Cancer is not an easy thing to go through. As described above, there are many things you can do to help support your loved one. Not all patients will be able to participate in any activity, however, taking one out for a simple walk in the park, or helping them with errands can help release some stress and help lighten their mood.

Find ways to continue your connection with your loved ones and help them through this difficult time. Support your loved one by just being present!