How to talk to a Cancer Patient
When you first learn that someone close to you has cancer, you may have many thoughts such as, ‘What if I say the wrong thing?’, ‘How do I talk to them?’ and ‘I don’t want to hurt them.
The most important thing to realise is that there is no magic formula, phrase or approach that is the ’right’ thing to say or do in all circumstances and for all situations. There isn’t a right set of words or attitudes that will always help. It’s not a skill that everyone else but you has. If you want to help someone who’s facing a difficult time, just wanting to help and offering to be there for that person is what matters most. Most of us feel that we don’t know what to say. But the important thing is not what we say – it’s that we’re there and that we listen. When you understand the few simple rules of good listening, you’ll be a great help and support. Listening can help build a relationship between you both that allows you to be even more supportive and to know what your relative or friend needs.
- Listen to the patient. Acknowledge is the key – Don’t ignore or pretend that the cancer does not exist. We can never completely understand another person’s thoughts and feelings, but listening helps us understand enough for them to feel that we empathise with them.
- Remain calm if the patient vents out his anger. Be supportive and not take the anger personally.
- Never say “I understand how it feels”. The person may become more aggressive and may vent out more anger because you really don’t know how it feels.
- Show empathy. Saying I love you will make a real difference. A touch and smile will do lot of healing – Empathy means sensing what another person is feeling. It’s an important way of showing love and concern for another person. This, in itself, can be very reassuring to a person with cancer.
- Get them involved in playful activities. Get friends and relatives involved.
- Give space and time to stay alone. Try not to take the illness very lightly and at the same time do not be over protective – It’s important to allow your relative or friend to be sad or upset at times. You may find that they want to talk about difficult topics, such as the chances of being cured, whether it’s worth having another course of treatment or making a will.
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How to help in the treatment Planning
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How to involve everyone and get support
Understand what the person is facing
Care Towards the End
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