Chances are, you probably know someone who has either been recently diagnosed with a form of cancer, or has been in a long struggle with cancer. Unfortunately, cancer is on the rise, and as the loved ones of cancer patients, we don't know how to handle or support those who have been diagnosed. This weeks blog is focused on ways to support someone with cancer. So, what can you do? Support any decisions they make for their treatment. Even if you disagree. Remember that the cancer patient's journey is their own. Respect their choices for treatment or non-treatment, and recognize that everyone copes with cancer in a different way. You do not know their specific experience. Many times, those who have been struggling with cancer for many years may make choices that are different than what you might want for them.
Try to keep things as normal as possible. Sometimes this can feel like the elephant in the middle of the livingroom, but the person with cancer might not want their cancer diagnosis to be what defines them. It might feel good to them to talk about "normal" life events and issues, and not just about their cancer. While it's important to ask them how they are doing and how they are feeling, make sure to involve other topics, as well.
Stay connected to them outside of their initial diagnosis. Check on them throughout their treatment, and even beyond that. Sometimes, those who are in remission from cancer still struggle with a lot of fear about their health and staying healthy. Make sure to maintain that connection with them throughout the entire process.
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.