Living With and Caring For Cancer

How to Help Someone Diagnosed With Cancer

No two people who get cancer ever react identically, nor do their family and friends. Each person must be allowed to cope with cancer in his own way. Your role should be to support the person in whatever way necessary.

Lighten a cancer patient's emotional burden by just being there.
Avoid the "everything will be all right" attitude. He understands that everything may not turn out all right, and false cheeriness is not what is needed.
Emphasize any "good news" portions of the diagnosis. It's OK to dwell on a positive test result, or a promising treatment option mentioned by the doctor.
Prepare to change roles or play new ones. If a husband has been diagnosed with cancer, he may not be up to continuing all of his usual duties. Allow him to be vulnerable, and not always feel the need to be in control and strong.
Be a patient's advocate, if he so desires. Do research about the cancer; scout out cancer specialists; learn everything there is to know about the type of cancer he has and its treatments.
Access your local library for medical reference books. Go online, searching sites such as Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic.
Write down his questions and bring them to the attention of the oncologist at the next appointment. If the doctor is too busy, ask a nurse. The nurse has constant access to the doctor, and will be sure to follow up with your questions and concerns.
Help with the mundane, everyday tasks of life or contact Relevar Home Care to help. Meals and evenings can be especially lonely and anxiety-provoking. Be there or have someone be there to wash dishes, sort laundry, and help pay bills.
Know when to seek extra help. Sometimes your presence and support won't be enough. You may want to ask the patient's minister or rabbi, the hospital's social worker, or a cancer survivor to stop by the home and offer counsel. You may also want to schedule some in-home assistance from an agency. Relevar Home Care can provide assistance from a few hours to 24 hours a day should extra help be needed.

Web Resources

Cancer Caregiver Checklist
The American Cancer Society offers this checklist for caregivers of cancer patients to help identify signs of caregiver depression.

Caring for a Cancer Patient
Informative advice and tips for caring for a cancer patient and providing good, reliable caregiver support, provided by the American Cancer Society.

Home Care for Cancer Patients
A fact sheet courtesy of the National Cancer Institute offers valuable information about the various services provided by home care agencies and financial assistance available from government, public and private agencies.

Cancer Treatment
The National Cancer Institute breaks down the different types of cancer treatment into easy-to-read sections.

Cancer Types
Find out oncologist-approved information about more than 120 different types of cancer and cancer-related syndromes on Cancer.net.

Common Questions About Diet and Cancer
The American Cancer Society answers questions regarding common concerns about diet and physical activity in relation to cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice
Because hospice care can be a confusing and difficult journey, Hospicenet.org provides the answers to frequently asked questions about hospice services.

What Is Hospice Care?
When it comes to cancer, there are many things about hospice care that sets it apart from other types of health care. The American Cancer Society provides useful information about what hospice is and how it can help.