When a person suffers from cancer, they suffer a strong emotional impact. Their social and work functioning can be deeply affected and this discomfort can spread to their family and friends. In general, the person usually goes through a period of uncertainty and fear, without knowing how to act.
The initial diagnosis of an oncological disease sometimes involves shock. Many people find it difficult to believe that it is true, feeling unable to make decisions from that moment, not knowing very well what to do or how to act.
A great diversity of emotional reactions arise in the person such as fear, anger, anxiety or desolation before the possibility of suffering a long illness, with the risk of death and breaking of vital goals. However, it is possible to live with personal, family and work well-being during and after cancer, but it takes time to get used to it and to adapt to this new situation.
The uncertainty of cancer
The cancer is a disease that frightens many people and that creates difficulties not only in the person who suffers but also those who are around and have not faced it. But we should not be ashamed of the fears, questions or discomfort that we experience.
If a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, they may experience difficulties interacting with them or may not know what to say to them. It is important for you to know that you can do a lot to help you. Many studies indicate that cancer patients who receive support from their environment find less difficulties in coping with their disease.
Therefore, we offer you a series of recommendations to know how to act when one of your loved ones suffers from this disease. Above all, it is very important to try to put yourself in their shoes and understand the situation you are experiencing.
Recognize the situation and take an interest in it
One of the most important things you can do is acknowledge the situation in the way that is most comfortable for you, rather than trying to avoid it. That is, if your reaction is concern or interest, show it and offer your support. Let him know that you are concerned. Remember that the simplest expression of interest is the most significant. It is important that you show that you are there and that you can be counted on.
Listen and practice empathy
Listening to the person and being empathetic is sometimes the best way to help. Knowing how to listen is a fundamental process for effective communication, as it means directing our attention to the other. Asking the person how you can help sometimes breaks the feeling of discomfort.
If your loved one starts talking about his illness, do not change the subject, he needs to express himself, listen to him. Respect the person’s needs to talk or keep quiet. And do not forget that the person with cancer knows himself and how his body works, he knows that things are not happening as before.
Giving encouragement is important, but it is also important not to generate false optimism or continually tell the person that they must always have a positive attitude or that we know how they feel. You have to be honest, you can’t say positive things if they aren’t real. Not all of us live being optimistic every day, nor do we know how the other is feeling, since individual experiences are unique to each person.
Therefore, do not try to paint a whole world in the color of roses, but do not invalidate the person if he can continue doing things on his own. Be honest with him, ask him and tell him that he will be by his side for everything you need. If you open your heart to him, he probably will too.
Use humor moderately
The use of humor is healthy as long as it is the person affected who has taken the initiative, and we are sure that the comment we are going to make can be appreciated or responded to. Many people use this resource as a way to cope with situations and it usually has positive results.
The mood can be beneficial if used as an escape route or to give another perspective to our situation. In fact it is a resource widely used by some people to face their difficulties. But do not forget that you do not set the pace, but the person who suffers from this disease.
Suggest doing some activity
When the person has a good appearance it is important that we let him know, just as when his appearance is not good it is advisable to avoid comments. Include it in leisure or work activities and social events, always leaving the choice to the person to say whether or not they are ready for the activity.
Carrying out activities, especially those that you like or attract your attention the most, will allow you to divert your attention from negative thoughts and worries, as well as enjoying what you are doing and having a good time.
Respect their privacy
It is extremely important to respect the privacy of the sick person. Perhaps you may be offended that the person close to you has not told you the news of the cancer diagnosis. You have to understand that many people need time to adapt to the situation, as well as to prepare to talk with others about what is happening to them, so you do not have to take it personally, it is convenient to focus on how to help the person.
First of all, we must be honest about how we feel and we will discover that it is easier to communicate with the person than we think. Let’s not forget that people with cancer have good and bad days, both emotionally and physically. Therefore, we must keep our relationship with them in the most normal way possible. More patience, understanding, support, and compassion are needed right now.