Nothing about cancer is easy. The physical discomfort, endless doctor’s visits, the painful side-effects of chemotherapy, stress, mental fatigue and crippling self-esteem are part of an exhausting journey. Many of us are often confused as to what to do and say to our loved ones suffering from cancer. Sometimes, we end up unintentionally offending, irritating or worse, avoiding them. Today is World Cancer Day and we had a conversation on the Girl Tribe by MissMalini about the things that should be said and done around cancer patients and the responses were eye-opening. The responses came from personal experiences and medical professionals and hence were extremely insightful. We hope they help you comfort and be there for your loved one suffering from this illness.
How You Can Really Help & Comfort A Cancer Patient:
1. Talk about anything but their cancer
You know they have cancer and they know they have cancer. It’s the elephant in the room that should not be addressed. Talking about their illness just makes them repeat details about it and does nothing to uplift their spirits. Talk about the latest book you read, a weird Reels trend or even the latest episode of Bigg Boss!
2. Don’t treat them like cancer patients
You may try your best to hide it, but your loved one will know when you’re treating them like a sick patient. Walking on eggshells around them, assuming they’re helpless, not letting them do simple things by themselves can be more infuriating than annoying. Unless they ask you to help, don’t assume they need it. There are many cancer patients who’ve done crazily daring things like sky-diving and that is far (far) from being “patient-like”.
3. Help out around the house
A great way to help cancer patients is to help with their household chores. Cooking and sending them food, tidying up their rooms, feeding their pets, keeping a tab on their medications, driving them around and similar activities can be very helpful. Taking them for chemotherapy and sitting through it with them can be a lot of fun too!
4. Never pity them. Ever.
Save the big-eyes, the sorry looks and the consoling touch when it comes to cancer patients. If there’s one thing they hate more than chemotherapy (and that is a real pain), it’s being pitied. They’re fighting a deadly disease, they should be commended, not pitied. Pro-tip: Never refer to them as “poor thing”. Ever.
5. Plan fun weekly night-ins or night-outs
Who doesn’t love a fun night? You can plan weekly nights that can include movies, cooking a fancy meal, going out for a drink, binge-watching Bridgerton or even getting “mani–pedis” in your pajamas. This gives them a break from their mundane routine and takes their mind off their cancer for a little bit.
6. Give them space and privacy
Sometimes, cancer patients need their space. They, just like everyone else, like to be left alone every now and then. When they express this, don’t brush it off and forcefully hang out with them. It’s annoying and disrespectful. However, if you are genuinely concerned about them being left alone for mental health reasons, especially if they’ve shown signs and symptoms of mental illness, please let their family members know.
7. Don’t be overly cheerful or optimistic
Please keep the Tumblr quotes and Pinterest pictures to yourself. It doesn’t help cancer patients and many get annoyed by the constant optimism and overly cheerful attitude of the people around them. While it’s great to be happy and positive around them, it’s irritating to be an “enthu-cutlet“. Additionally, if they’re in a rotten mood and just want to cry it out or be angry, let them. (Sometimes you just need to let it out, you know?)
8. Silently pray for them
Many of our Girl Tribe members agreed that silently praying for cancer patients and manifesting their recovery is a good thing to do. You need not even tell them you’re doing it. Pray to whoever or whatever you believe in and send them your positive energy. It’s not only easy, but it really does help.
Cancer is a tricky disease and battling it is no easy task. What do you think about this? How do you comfort a loved one who has cancer? Share it with us in the comments below.