If your loved one has recently received a serious cancer diagnosis, it’s likely that there are a number of emotions you are feeling. Not only is cancer life-changing for the individual but also for everyone close to him or her. While it’s natural to feel hopeless, helpless, and even angry, trying to be and stay positive can help you and your loved one deal with the diagnosis and to get through the treatment process.
Here are some tips for staying positive during a difficult time:
1. Why positivity is so important.
When someone you love is battling a life-threatening disease, it’s often difficult to muster up some positivity, especially if his or her future is unknown. While there’s no clear understanding or explanation as to why it works, studies reveal that positive thinking can actually be beneficial to someone with a serious disease like cancer. A positive attitude can speed recovery from surgery and make it easier to cope with a diagnosis. Although it’s imperative for the individual, with cancer, to be positive, it’s just as important for loved ones to adopt the same attitude.
2. Erasing the fear of the unknown.
In life, we can never be completely sure of the future and while the number of cancer survivors continues to increase, it’s difficult to know how effective the treatment will be or how long your loved one will need to undergo treatment. All of the “unknowns” can create fear and negative feelings, but one way to try to get rid of that overwhelming feeling is by trying to get a better understanding of the diagnosis. The more information you have, the fewer questions you will have. The Mayo Health Clinic recommends that all patients, diagnosed with cancer, ask any questions that they may have so they are “in the know” about their disease. As a loved one, educating yourself can be helpful, not only for yourself but for times when you need to offer reassurance.
3. Be available.
It's important for your loved one to have a support system from the beginning of his or her diagnosis and throughout the treatment process. The best way to be that support system is to make yourself available whether he or she needs a hand to hold or a ride to the doctor’s office. Sit down and ask your loved one what he or she needs or wants from you. Don’t attempt to take over all household or daily tasks; sometimes a feeling of independence can keep spirits high. Although positivity is beneficial, don’t force it on your loved one. He or she will have good days and bad days, don’t disregard the negative emotions as they are part of the process.
Instead, offer to take him or her to a support group or to a counseling session. Engage in healthy activities like exercising or cooking a healthy meal together. Practicing healthy habits are positive and may motivate your loved one to keep fighting.
How did you respond to a loved one being diagnosed with cancer? Tell us in the comments.
Donna Fitzgerald is an avid reader and writer, who enjoys living along the coast of North Carolina. Entertained by her loving daughters, Donna stays active within her neighborhood, and is passionate about health and family wellness. In her free time, you can find Donna curled up reading her favorite novel, or writing in her journal.