By Samara Mahindra

Finding out a loved one has cancer can be overwhelming. Cancer affects not only the person diagnosed but also all those who care about that person. You may be wondering, “What should I do now?” or “How can I help?”

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Educate yourself
    Learn as much as possible about the patient’s cancer type, treatment options, and potential side effects. Ask the patient’s doctor about patient education materials and supportive resources. The more you know about the disease and what to expect, the more confident you and your loved one will feel about treatment decisions.

  2. Accept the bad days
    At times, the patient may be depressed, angry or just having a bad day. It’s unrealistic to expect them to “stay positive” all the time. So accept the bad days, give your loved one space if needed, and try not to take things personally.

  3. Prioritise responsibilities
    It helps to make a list of daily tasks and prioritise what needs to be done. Space out activities with short rest periods, and postpone small tasks. Remember that you don’t have to take on all the responsibilities. The patient probably wants to feel as independent and in control as possible right now.

  4. Make time for yourself
    Caregiving can sometimes be isolating and lonely. You don’t have to feel guilty about needing some time for yourself. Your loved one may need the space too. Start with small increments of time for yourself each day. Take a walk, watch a movie, call a friend, read a book or listen to music. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, doing something you enjoy can help you feel refreshed.

  5. Keep a journal
    Many caregivers feel more emotional than usual as they try to cope with a loved one’s cancer. You may feel angry with cancer itself, the situation, yourself, your loved one, other family members, doctors, etc. These feelings are all normal. It may help to keep a journal or write a letter to release your thoughts and feelings so you can better manage them.

Staying connected with others may help you feel less alone and provide a much-needed emotional outlet. Share your feelings and concerns with family and friends. Join a caregiver support group, where you can talk about your experiences and trade advice. Online social networks may help you feel connected with others without having to leave home. You may also consider speaking with a professional counsellor or spiritual leader.

Samara Mahindra

Founder & CEO of CARER
CARER works with cancer patients, caregivers, survivors, and specialists to prevent and help cancer patients. To know more about Carer (Cancer Prevention & Therapy Experts), please visit here.

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