Cancer’s Emotional
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When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, it can feel like their life completely flips upside down. Far too often, we only focus on the physical side of cancer. But, the mental and emotional toll it can take on someone can be just as harmful.

People who have cancer are susceptible to feeling helpless and hopeless, no matter how much they want to fight the disease. So, what can you do as a family member or friend to support and help someone you love who is dealing with cancer?

Educate Yourself

One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself on the type of cancer your loved one has. You don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia, but the more you know about it, the more genuine help you might be able to offer.

Caregiving can be difficult for a loved one because no one wants to see someone they care about struggling in any way. However, your loved one can find comfort in receiving care from someone they know and trust. When you know what you’re doing, simply being there for that person can make a big difference in their mental state. So, do your research and do what you can to provide the best physical and emotional care possible.

Educating yourself on cancer care can also help to bring you out of a state of shock. Hearing someone you love receive a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelmingly terrifying. But, knowledge is a powerful tool for finding help for your loved one. The more you know, the more you can stay calm and focus on helping them rather than worrying about them.

Removing Stress

You’ll never be able to know everything going on in your loved one’s head. But, they’re undoubtedly stressed about their situation. Cancer patients have to deal with thoughts of mortality, treatments, doctor’s visits, specialist visits, and so much more. The disease is never far from their mind. That can lead to problems with anxiety and depression.

You may not be able to get rid of all of the stress in their life, but do what you can to mitigate some of the more obvious everyday stressors. That might include things like financial stress or keeping up a home. Take care of those things for them as much as possible. Additionally, help them to find ways to reduce their stress every day. If you’re stuck on ideas, consider:
  • Spending time outside
  • Staying active
  • Reading a book
  • Practicing mindfulness/meditation
Challenge them to do something they truly enjoy each day if they are physically able. Self-care is incredibly important for everyone, but especially when a cancer diagnosis has rocked their world.

Offering Support

In the end, you want to be one of the resources they come to when they need to do research about their condition or even simply have philosophical questions. It’s okay to talk to your loved one about ways they can stay healthy. You might even consider talking to them about some of the common environmental causes of certain cancers, like air pollution or smoking. It doesn’t have to be too late to change habits or environments to slow the progression of the disease.

Helping them to make better daily choices will also be beneficial. That includes encouraging them to eat healthy, especially since food and mental health go hand-in-hand. Nutrients that can help with depression include:
  • Omega-3’s
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin D
  • B vitamins
Sometimes, the person you care about might simply want you to listen. Don’t rush conversations, and don’t force them. Instead, be a dedicated, supportive companion. Every person with a cancer diagnosis has different needs. You know your loved one and how they might really be feeling. Keep these ideas in mind to help them cope, and to keep them uplifted as they fight to beat their disease.