How to Be There for Someone with Cancer
When someone you care about has cancer, it can be really hard to know how to provide them the best support and care. Every cancer patient has a different way of dealing with their journey with the disease.
Dr. Sukriti Bhardwaj, one of our naturopathic doctors that specializes in oncological care, has gleaned some useful tips. Her experience working in cancer research and seeing close friends and family members affected by the condition was what pushed her to pursue her speciality. In her many years of working with patients, here’s the best ways she’s found to support cancer patients.
7 Ways to Support Someone with Cancer
Learn about the cancer type that your loved one has: There are more than 100 types of cancer. It may be exhausting for your friend or family member to explain their specific cancer type repeatedly to different people so take the time to do some research on your own to educate yourself. There are many user-friendly online resources you can use such as the Canadian Cancer Society or the National Cancer Institute.
Listen to them: Many times, we put so much emphasis on trying to say the perfect thing that we forget to listen first. If your loved one would like to talk, then be ready to listen to what they have to say. Sometimes, they may not even want to talk at all but that doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate your company. Simply being there can be one of the most powerful forms of support you can provide.
Don’t stress about saying something wrong: A lot of pressure that we feel to say the ‘perfect thing’ also stems from the fear about saying something wrong. Take some of the pressure off by asking open ended questions instead like ‘How are you feeling today?’ You can also make supportive statements like ‘I care about you’ or ‘I’m thinking of you.’
Offer help in specific ways: For example, instead of asking what you can to do help, you can say, ‘Would you like me to pick up anything at the grocery store for you?’ Ensure that your loved one would find your offer helpful.
Understand that cancer is a multifactorial disease: In most cases, it is very difficult to pinpoint one exact cause of cancer in someone’s case.
Fuel them with realistic hope: Based on statistics in the United States, the five-year survival for some of the most common cancer types such as breast and prostate has been improving since the 1990s. The combined 5-year survival for all cancers has increased to 67%. Please keep in mind that these statistics are derived from large groups of people and how long an individual cancer patient will live depends on various other factors including the person’s overall health, aggressiveness of the cancer, the extent of spread in the body, treatment options, and more.
Help Them Understand their Healthcare Options: Many patients and healthcare providers alike are under the impression that they need to choose between either conventional treatment or naturopathic medicine when it comes to cancer care, but this is not the case. Conventional medicine is life saving. Under the guidance and supervision of their oncology team, patients should decide whether the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks. Once a conventional treatment plan is decided upon, it is possible to safely integrate strategies such as diet/lifestyle counseling or nutritional supplementation to help reduce side effects of treatment and reduce risk of cancer recurrence after treatment completion under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider, such as a Naturopathic Doctor. At our Holistic Cancer Care Program in Toronto, our doctors are specifically trained in drug-herb, drug-nutrient and drug-food interactions to ensure that we never compromise the efficacy of your conventional medications.
Holistic Cancer Care in Toronto
At Timeless Health Clinic, we're here to support you and your loved ones in any way we can. Please reach out to us for more information on our Holistic Cancer Care Program. We're here to support your health.