4 Ways to Help a Loved One Who Is Going Through Cancer Treatment
Helping a loved one get through cancer treatment is never easy. They may be experiencing physical, emotional, or mental pain; they may be worried about what the near future will bring, not only for themselves but for the people they love. Living with a cancer diagnosis can bring on stress, anxiety, and depression, and those are not easy things to cope with. It’s important to help your loved one find ways to relax and ease stress, so they can improve their quality of life and help their bodies and minds heal.
One of the best ways to start is by helping your loved one focus on their mental health. This is made easier with daily exercise, meditation, therapy animals, and hobbies that will make them feel happy and relaxed. Reducing stress can help your loved one get through their treatment more easily and allow them to make their physical health a priority.
Here are a few of the best ways you can help your loved one get through cancer treatment.
Help with the Pets
If your loved one has pets or a service animal, they may need help with its daily care. Dogs, especially, need lots of attention, love, and playtime/walks, which can be very difficult for an individual who is coping with treatment that leaves them feeling tired or weak. You can help out by setting up a dog walker who can come over at certain times and take the dog out or have some playtime. If your loved one will be spending some time at the hospital, consider hiring a boarder who can take in their pets for a short time. Not only will this help keep the animals safe and cared-for, it will give your loved one peace of mind.
Offer to Do Housework
Because cancer treatment can cause physical illness, weakness, and painful sores, many survivors don’t feel up to doing housework or other chores. Offering to help complete some of these tasks a couple of times a week will keep your loved one safe and will allow him to save his/her energy for something fun, like practicing a hobby. You might do the dishes, put clean clothes away, or do the grocery shopping. Every little bit helps.
Get Them Involved
It’s understandable that many cancer survivors don’t feel up to being social when they are undergoing treatment, but if you can find ways for them to feel involved in their community — or just stay in touch with their friends and loved ones — it will help boost their self-esteem and give them back a bit of confidence. You might use an app like Skype to help them stay connected with friends, or start a book club with a few very close friends or family members. Helping your loved one prevent isolation will also go a long way toward helping him prevent depression and other mood disorders.
Many different types of cancer treatments can drain energy, but low-impact exercises can help survivors feel strong and can boost their immune system. Consider signing up for a yoga class together, or go for a swim at the local YMCA. There are many ways to stay active that won’t be intrusive or interfere with treatment.
Helping a loved one through cancer treatment can take a toll on you emotionally, so make sure you take some time for yourself when you need it. Consider attending doctor’s appointments with your loved one so you can ask questions regarding their health and help them keep up with all the information they’ll receive; this will also help give you peace of mind.
Scott Sanders is the creator of CancerWell.org, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer. He is also the author of the book Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment.