Just Be There: What to Do When a Family Member Has a Malignant Tumor

August 25, 2017

Cancer is an unfortunately common health issue, and you may be in the position of learning that one or more of your loved ones has a malignant tumor over the years. While this news can be heartbreaking for you to cope with, you understandably need to be strong and supportive of this individual. Being there is one of the best things you can to help your loved one cope with this news and navigate through the months to come. You can be there in several different ways.

Offer Your Emotional Support

There may be times when your loved one simply wants to cry quietly alone, and there may be other times when he or she wants someone to go on adventures with. When someone is faced with his or her mortality, emotions and actions can jump all over the place. Understand that this is normal, and offer to support him or her with any reasonable needs or goals. However, don’t offer the support unless you’re willing to be there for them 100% and you truly mean that offer.

If being there for them 100% isn’t something that you’d be able to do, then be specific about what you’d be willing to do. If the family member has kids, you might be able to offer to take the kids to school in the morning. You can offer to walk their dog on a daily basis. You can go to a meeting or two (PTA or whatever organization they’re involved in) and take notes for them. There are so many ways to be there for your family member in a meaningful way.

Educate Yourself

In some cases, your loved one wants to talk about the specific details of the diagnosis and treatment. It is important that you spend time educating yourself as much as possible about the specific type of cancer he or she has as well as about treatment options. Familiarize yourself with trends, alternative treatments, dietary recommendations and other factors so that you can speak more knowledgeably to your loved one.

Attend Doctor Visits and Chemo Treatments

Some people are very private about their condition and treatments, but many would love to have your emotional support available at doctor visits and chemo treatments. Remember that the medical professionals who your loved one interacts with have completed extensive training and education courses specifically to help and support people in this situation. Trust that they have your loved one’s best interests in mind and that they received proper education through an oncology nurse practitioner program, their CTR certification, or another educational program that they may have gone through.

Speaking of education, it might be worth your while to ask your doctor or nurse about their educational background. What program did they go through and what institution did they get their license from? Knowing such things isn’t completely crucial, but it can give you confidence in their ability. Don’t demand the information, though. Go about it in a conversational manner.

Organize the Support of Others

Another great idea is to ask friends, family members and community residents to support your loved one. This can be done by hosting various fundraisers to help pay for the cost of medical treatments. It can also be done by organizing transportation, in-home care, meals for the family and more over the course of the next few weeks or months.

In the day and age of social media, a lot of this support can be rallied up through the help of Facebook. You can even create a GoFundMe campaign and share it on your social media accounts so that all who want to help financially may do so.

Another great way to seek support is by looking at the local churches. If your relative goes to one, inform the ecclesiastical leader and be specific about the type of help that your relative might need—rides to the doctor’s, a companion during chemo, etc. Even if your relative doesn’t go to a church or have religion, this is still a good thing to do—just make sure that you have your relative’s blessing to do it beforehand. Churches of all creeds and faiths have been known to come together in full force even for a stranger.

Many people who are faced with a malignant tumor diagnosis may react to the news in different ways. Some may initially reject offers of support or help, but bear in mind that this can be an emotional and painful experience for them. Those who initially reject offers of help may change their mind over the course of a few days or weeks. Any type of support that you can provide can help your family member through this difficult time. These are only a few of the many ways that you can show your support.

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