Is Your Loved One Being Treated for Cancer? Here Is What They Need the Most :
When a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, it can be tough to know how to support them. Even the physical and mental toll of treatment can be hard for your loved one, but the smallest of gestures can mean the most during this time of need. If someone you love is being treated for cancer, here are some simple ways you can love and support them.
Help Them with Household Tasks
For people going through chemotherapy, even the simplest of daily tasks can be a challenge to complete. If your loved one is struggling with the effects of cancer treatment, try taking some stress off of them by helping out with some household tasks. You can take their dog for a walk, pick up their yard, or simply take the trash out every week. If they are unable to shop, pick up some essentials and household supplies. A little help around the house can go a long way in helping a loved one who is dealing with a serious illness.
Encourage Positive Stress Relief Practices
The physical, emotional, and spiritual impact of cancer treatment can be overwhelming. Athletes who are used to dealing with stress through activity may find themselves turning to less positive methods. Patients are dealing with such high levels of stress, and it is important to find healthy ways to relieve the pressure. A meditation room can be a wonderful addition to your loved one’s home, so help them create their own relaxation space. Meditation has been shown to have positive effects on those dealing with cancer, and may even support treatment. You can help them put a meditation space together with a few simple touches to soothe stress and pain associated with their treatments.
Offer a Ride to Treatments
Performing simple tasks after a chemo session can be challenging, even for athletes. Driving a vehicle can be downright impossible. If you know your loved one will be going to treatment, offer to give them a ride to and from their appointments. You can even attend the session with them and help get their mind off treatment with some activities. When your schedule is too busy to offer a ride, think about picking up some ride share gift cards to help them with transportation to treatments and appointments.
Put Together Some Healthy Meals
Proper nutrition is key for those going through cancer treatment. A balanced diet can help support your loved one’s treatment and help them feel better, but they may be unable to make meals themselves. You can work with friends and other loved ones to put together some meals for the duration of treatments. Throw together some easily re-heatable casseroles to bring all at once, or organize a meal train to keep food and company flowing. When making meals is not possible, try offering gift cards for food delivery or grocery delivery services.
Be Willing to Really Listen
Cancer can bring on so many different emotions. One of the easiest, yet hardest, ways you can be there for your friend is to simply listen. They may want to talk about how cancer has weakened their bodies, their fears of dying or other unpleasant topics. Allow your loved one to express themselves freely, but be aware of warning signs that depression may be taking hold. Depression is a common concern for cancer patients, so encourage your loved one to seek support if you think they may have more serious issues.
Get Them Out Every Now and Then
Physical limitations of cancer treatment can be especially challenging for athletes. But physical activity is also important to recovery, so encourage your loved one to create a new routine of gentle exercise. You can go on some relaxing walks together or attend a yoga class. Yoga has other benefits and can be a welcome addition to any athlete’s physical fitness routine.
These are just some simple ways you can show your love and support to a loved one dealing with cancer. You don’t have to make any big gestures; simply being there will mean the most.
Scott Sanders is the creator of CancerWell.org, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer. He is also the author of the book Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment.
In an Italian trial reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lesi et al found that the addition of acupuncture to enhanced self-care improved hot flashes, climacteric symptoms, and quality-of-life measures in women with breast cancer.
In the trial, 190 women were randomized to receive enhanced self-care with (n = 85) or without (n = 105) acupuncture. Both groups received a booklet with information about climacteric syndrome and its management to be followed for at least 12 weeks. The acupuncture group also received 10 traditional acupuncture treatment sessions involving predefined acupoints.
The primary outcome was hot flash score at the end of treatment at week 12; the score was calculated by multiplying the mean number of daily hot flashes during the week before assessment by mean daily severity (1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe). Climacteric symptoms and quality of life were assessed by the Greene Climacteric and Menopause Quality of Life scales.
The acupuncture group had a significantly lower mean hot flash score at the end of treatment (11.3 vs 22.7,P < .001) and at 3-month (14.0 vs 21.9, P = .0028) and 6-month (12.6 vs 17.3, P = .001) post-treatment visits. Acupuncture was associated with fewer climacteric symptoms at 12 weeks (P < .001), 3 months (P = .0063), and 6 months (P < .001) and better quality-of-life outcomes at all time points in vasomotor, physical, and psychosocial domains (all P < .05). No differences were observed in the sexual domain.
The investigators concluded: “Acupuncture in association with enhanced self-care is an effective integrative intervention for managing hot flashes and improving quality of life in women with breast cancer.”
The study was supported by Osservatorio Medicine Non Convenzionali Regione Emilia Romagna.
Giorgia Razzini, PhD, of Civil Hospital, Carpi, is the corresponding author of the Journal of Clinical Oncologyarticle.
The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.