Cancer treatment can be a roller coaster of emotions. This wide range of feeling is totally normal and it is important to understand that your loved one might experience all of them and everyone reacts in their own way. It is also important to remember that it is okay for you to experience you own emotions. It is not uncommon for your loved one to experience stress, body image issues, feelings of grief or loss, feelings of uncertainty, sadness, depression, prioritizing, fears of recurrence, searching for meaning and even an improved sense of hope.
You might notice that conversations with family and friends become strained or different and often times your loved ones want to communicate with you, but you are apprehensive and fearful of making matters worse by doing, or saying, “the wrong thing.” Here are some suggestions of topics to share and topics to avoid:
- Don’t be afraid to say the word “cancer,” you don’t have to feel bad about being direct.
- Do ask how you can help with specific tasks, no matter how simple.
- Don’t make generalized offers to help.
- Do small things to show you care that will brighten their day.
- Don’t try to provide false hope, they aren’t expecting you to fix everything.
- Do make time to sit and listen.
- Don’t offer advice on how to overcome this adversity.
- Do consider how to talk about cancer with children of various ages.
- Don’t talk about people you know who have cancer or have died of cancer.
- Do your own research so that you can feel comfortable with the cancer terminology.