Caregiver? Four ways to help your loved one
Hearing you have cancer is terrifying. Hearing that someone you love will soon be battling the disease?
“I felt helpless,” said Craig Baxley, 57, whose wife of nearly 30 years was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. “I just wanted to let her know that I loved her as much as I ever did.”
Specific needs will change day-to-day, but utilizing these four tips may help you navigate your path.
Be their sounding board
No matter the prognosis, emotions will be raw. Your loved one — mother, sister, daughter, spouse, or friend — will go through a spectrum of emotions. Be there through them all. Let them cry or yell. Let them vent. But don’t let them wallow for too long. Positivity is what they need.
Don’t treat them differently
One of the many challenging things about undergoing treatment is that life seems to change overnight. While your relationship is destined to evolve, your friendship doesn’t need to.
“Be their buddy,” said Craig. “There’s a lot of things that will be different, but there’s no reason you can’t talk and laugh and enjoy the same conversations you always have.”
If you have a favorite TV show together, don’t give up on it. If you enjoy trying new recipes, schedule one night a week where you incorporate a different food into your diet that doesn’t conflict with any new dietary restrictions. Tastebuds often change during chemotherapy, so you might be surprised what new combinations work for your loved one.
When appointments start to pileup, information and medical jargon can quickly become overwhelming. If you’re their support system during appointments, make sure you’re actively listening to instructions. Medication descriptions, pre-op instructions and paperwork deadlines can all blur together. Keep a notebook with important facts from each appointment.
Don’t forget about self-care
You can’t help someone else stay afloat if you’re drowning. Your loved one needs you at your very best, and that means staying in shape emotionally, mentally and physically. Don’t be ashamed to take an afternoon off to grab a cup of coffee or to ask a friend to jump in if transportation problems arise during daily appointments.