It’s excruciating for a person to hear their cancer diagnosis, and they need their caregiver to help them through it. Here are 8 tips from a cancer survivor for first-time caregivers.
It’s excruciating for a person to hear their cancer diagnosis. Simply put, it rocks their world. The news numbs them, shocks them and frightens them. That’s why it’s very important that caregivers weigh carefully how they will respond to their loved one’s anguish from the very start.
As a prostate cancer survivor, I speak from experience. That fateful day in 2014 will burn in my memory forever. “Could this really be happening to me?” I thought. “Maybe this is a bad dream!” Of course, it was true: This cancer thing, this terrible curse, all seemed like a death sentence plain and simple.
One fateful day led to another after my initial diagnosis. I underwent bone and CAT scans, then surgery, then the start of radiation and hormone therapy. My loyal, loving wife has stood by my side at every turn.
So, I know how very crucial it is to have a supportive caregiver nearby from the very beginning. To help caregivers get through the moment, I would like to offer 10 tips for those who want to do and say the right thing when the devastating news is received.
1. Listen more, say less.
2. Prepare soup for two.
3. Silence is golden. Hold their hand, pat them on the arm, give a hug. Establish an emotional connection that will speak volumes.
4. For now, avoid discussing the stage of the disease or the prognosis. Your beloved will clue you in when they’re ready to discuss such weighty matters. Allow them to guide you.
5. Don’t bombard them with information or questions. Let them absorb this new reality at their own pace. They will grieve, rail, rant and cry. Wrap your arms around them. Deal with the emotions at hand before digging into the ugly facts. Please remember: Emotions first, facts second.
6. Don’t mention someone else’s cancer journey. Of course, you would do this in a well-meaning way, but it could easily backfire. Words have weight and others’ experiences with this deadly disease will weigh heavily upon the impressionable mind of your beloved. Every cancer case is extremely unique and beyond comparison.
7. Step off the information treadmill. Answers to burning questions will come in due course. Slow down, take a deep breath and slow down again. You will have time to figure this thing out and so will the precious one living with cancer.
8. Enjoy your soup.