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A cancer diagnosis changes the lives of the person with cancer and those around them. Offering support can make a huge difference.
A cancer diagnosis brings with it a multitude of emotions that can paralyze the person with cancer and greatly affect those closest to them. The immediate family is often affected by a wave of sadness, uncertainty and helplessness. The impact can also be felt by friends and colleagues. The extended family and friends play a significant role in supporting the person with cancer.
Emotional support can take many forms:
Over and above the emotional aspect, which is a primary field of intervention, it is possible to offer support to a person with cancer in much more tangible ways. For example, you can:
On a day-to-day basis, you can:
However, the wishes of the ill person must be respected. They will want to feel free to accept or decline your help and support. Although this may seem difficult, you should avoid the temptation to take control of the situation unless the person clearly wants to do so.
Sometimes a great willingness to offer support can have the opposite of the desired effect. This is called "negative support". Here are some examples of attitudes to watch out for:
Fear of not doing the right thing mustn't deter you from offering your help to the ill person. You simply have to be able to adapt to the needs the person expresses.
Loved ones of a person with cancer must also be mindful of their own psychological balance so they don’t fall apart. Here are a few things to remember:
Supporting someone with cancer can be an obstacle course that is best dealt with as a team. Communication within the team is key to crossing the finish line with success! Remember that you can also count on a teammate who knows about health and medication—your pharmacist!
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