When a close family member is diagnosed with cancer, it can be devastating. Your loved one will go through so much during his or her treatment—but the truth is, so will you. Keeping your strength and spirits up will be critical in the battle ahead, so if you’re one of the soldiers in this fight, here are a few tools to help along the way:
You need a ton of this for the endless doctor visits, waiting rooms, arguments with insurance companies, disability paperwork, and everything else your loved one may not be able to do without you, at least for now. And though it’s only temporary, we know it might sometimes feel like forever. Just breathe and find things for yourself: books, shows, journaling, projects, and whatever else you can do to feel productive while you fill the time—yet put down at a moment’s notice.
While you don’t need to be a doormat, you also need to recognize that you aren’t the one going through the sickness and pain of treatment. This may take some work and will require releasing your own need for attention for a while. Remember, everything will balance out, so stick with it and keep in mind that there are also big mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits to practicing humility.
Check in with yourself daily. Though patience and humility are crucial, you’re only human, so if you snap, take a moment to figure out what brought it on. If it’s exhaustion, ask for help from friends, family, or even professionals. Be active in taking care of yourself the same way you’re caring for your loved one. The struggle is real and asking for help is key to navigating this process gracefully while providing the support your loved one needs.
Both you and your loved one need to focus on lighter things once in a while. Find fun, silly, or—if circumstances permit—extravagant things to keep life interesting. Hire a bounce house for a backyard party. Take a trip you’ve always dreamed of, like a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Buy fresh flowers, plant a vegetable garden, treat yourselves to a favorite dinner (when your loved one has an appetite), and find as many moments as you can to connect over something other than the illness.
PRODUCTS THAT WORK
Chemo and radiation usually require a lot of new products since so much has to be set aside during treatment in favor of specialized products and chemical-free alternatives. A favorite is the Healing Luxe box from CaraKit, which came filled with products recommended by other survivors, along with instructions on how and why to use them. Check out different blogs as well and ask your medical team for recommendations—there are plenty of things that can help make this journey a little easier, so take the time to seek them out.