If you find out a loved one has cancer, it can be devastating news and you might wonder where to even begin. Because of this, we’ve compiled 5 ways to be there for a loved one with cancer, based on our founder’s personal experiences.
Listening goes a long way
You might not be able to find the words to say, and that is actually okay. Hold space for them to talk and be available to listen. Let your loved one know that you’re available to come over when needed. Cry with her, laugh with her, and, most of all, listen. Sometimes there is no need for words, and just showing her that she has support in the form of a listening ear can be extremely comforting.
Show her you care in practical ways
Many people find it difficult to ask for help, and your loved one might already feel like her diagnosis has brought burdens to those around her. Let her know you care and show up for her in practical ways, like cooking a home cooked meal or offering to do the grocery shopping. These might seem like small gestures, but they go a long way in helping to make her life a little more convenient and giving her one less thing to worry about.
Reach out, but be respectful of her needs
Your first reaction might be to call all the time to check in, but try to remember that at times, even talking may be tiring. Try not to call at meal times or too early or late in the day. You might even want to ask her if she is being inundated with calls from other family and friends, and what time she prefers to talk.
Go for a visit
Receiving a cancer diagnosis then going into treatment can feel lonely. Ask your loved one if she is up for a visit (be sure to phone first, and avoid popping up announced). Be sure to also be mindful of her space, don’t visit with sick or noisy children, or if you’re sick yourself.
Be there for her in every sense of the word
Offer to drive her to medical treatments or appointments, or work out a schedule with family and friends so that everyone accompanies her on a rotating schedule. Taking this time out of your day reinforces to your loved one that she is not alone in the fight, and can provide hope and healing to her spirit. The love and support of family and friends can be powerful on any healing journey.
A thoughtful gift that is both beautiful and practical for all the changes she is going through can also go a long way in helping your loved one feel seen and cared for beyond the diagnosis.