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How to support a family member diagnosed with cancer?

By February 17, 2021No Comments
How to support a family member diagnosed with cancer

Cancer is one of the most deadly diseases and to know that a loved one has been diagnosed with it, can be devastating.

But instead of being scared and panicking, now is the time to support them with your presence and guidance so that they can feel assured during this trying time.

Cancer is something that can be treated if dealt with in the right way. Early detection of cancer has many treatment options and is curable with increased chances of survival but cancer at a later stage becomes complicated and the chances of survival reduce and the treatment gets more expensive.

Use reputed sites to gain more knowledge about the disease. In this age, the internet is our biggest weapon. Try to avoid sketchy sites and opt for those that have a medical background. You can even contact some doctors to get their opinions on the matter.

This is even more essential if the patient has chronic cancer or is suffering from second cancer.

The importance of a second opinion 

The first thing to do is to opt for a second opinion. It will aid in finalizing the treatment plan and to double-check if the growth is benign or malignant.

In case it is malignant, it is best to talk to multiple doctors and come up with a treatment plan that will best suit the patient’s needs. A second opinion provides reassurance and reconfirmation on the treatment plan.

Every patient is different and have different forms of other existing ailments. All of this needs to be considered before opting for a treatment plan.

When going for a second opinion, be it online or in person, always carry your family member’s medical history and keep a list of all the doubts that you have. It is essential for the patient to have familial support when going to the doctor.

Sometimes a patient might zone out and not hear everything that the doctor has said or suggested. It is in these times that having a family member beside you helps. They can listen attentively and ask any questions that they might have.

Things to do before deciding on starting a treatment

It is best to discuss with the patient and other family members about the different treatment plans and what would be best for the patient. Check the pros and cons of all the various treatment plans suggested by the doctor before finalising the decision. Keep the suggestions from the second opinion in mind when deciding the cause of action for the treatment.

Tips to combat the stress of treatment

Once the treatment is finalised, do what you can to help out the patient. Try to engage them in fun activities that will help get their minds off the worries and think beyond cancer. Encourage them to try out new hobbies and learn new skills.

Learning art will help them in expressing their feelings. They can try out pottery, knitting, singing, or even learn a new instrument. Singing aids in releasing stress.

You can get them a diary journal and ask them to make an entry every day about how they were feeling on that particular day.

If there was something that they did before but lost touch because of the rush of our daily lives, try to introduce them to it again.

If they are averse to something, don’t try to force it on them and let them decide what they want to do. It is important the patient doesn’t take too much stress. Some sort of physical activity will help them combat the side-effects of treatment.

Yoga too helps in releasing stress and keeps the body flexible. It is important for the patient to take a well-balanced diet. A dietician can be referred for a diet that is apt for a cancer patient.

If they have been assigned medicines, make sure that they take them at the right times.

Keep an eye on the patient. It is normal for patients to suffer from clinical depression when they learn that they have cancer. Try to be patient with them and help them cope with the reality of things.

It is best if you can support them and try to keep them happy. Try not to be angry with them if they are not in their best shape and can’t do much. You can get them counselling if their mood keeps worsening.

Once the treatment begins, there will be many changes in them. Try to be patient and lend an ear to them when they want to talk. It is a very hard time for them, so be understanding.

Many times they might have outbursts but try to calm them down. Even though it might not be something to be worried about, always be prepared for the worst.

Be an understanding person and don’t put too much pressure on them. It is hard to cope with the knowledge that you have cancer.

In the unfortunate case that your family member has been diagnosed with the last stage of cancer, be ready for the worst. They might become lost in grief but try to keep them as happy and engaged as you can.


Cancer is a debilitating disease and often times it claims our loved ones. Sometimes it might be inevitable, but most of the time with proper planning and research, they can return to their normal lives like nothing ever happened.

It is important for a cancer patient to remain happy and physically active if the health condition permits. Cancer can be devastating not only for the cancer patient but also for their family.

To deal with the grief it is important to remain strong and educate oneself on the diagnosis and line of treatment.

A cancer patient needs comfort and strength to fight with their emotions and the disease. Any hurdles can be won if the family stays beside and provide all the emotional and mental support during their loved one’s fight against cancer.

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