Having cancer is like a journey without a map. Sticking by your parent’s side through the unwanted adventure is crucial. After the shock of the diagnosis has worn off, maintain a clear mind and stay active. This benefits both you and your parent.
1. Help with daily tasks
Treatments are exhausting. Fatigue, nausea, and pain are common side effects. Offer to help your parent with everyday chores including washing dishes, doing the grocery shopping, making beds, folding laundry, and walking the dog. Or, ask a neighbor to help with yard work. Taking just a few tasks off the weekly To Do list will be much appreciated, especially on days when your parent feels poorly.
2. Don’t be overly apologetic
Going to your parent’s oncology appointments are frequent reminders of the situation you simply want to forget. Although you feel bad for your parent, don’t apologize every time he or she hears bad news. This creates of a cycle of guilt that’s unwarranted. Neither you nor the parent did anything wrong to get cancer. Don’t apologize for it.
3. Make future plans
Live life to its fullest. Talk about plans for next weekend, next month, and even next year. Discussing watching a movie when it comes out on DVD, or having friends over to visit, gives the parent something to look forward to if they are home on bed rest. The worst thing you can do it stop enjoying your time together and focusing on the “what if” scenarios. This is a battle; Put your best foot forward and push on one day at a time.
4. Communicate with doctors
Don’t shut down. If you avoid the diagnosis and stop listening to the medical team helping your parent, you’ll be in the dark about the course of treatments and the progress of the disease. It’s easy to block out all the medical talk, doctor’s appointments, and all the new physicians you’ll meet and what their medical role actually is. But, for your parent’s sake, listen; they need your extra set of ears to make sense of it all.
5. Do your research
Cancer is scary and confusing. Nobody expects you to understand the differences between IV-administered chemotherapy, radiation treatments and, oral chemotherapy pills. Take some time to use the library at your local cancer center or hospital.
Read how cancer is detected, about parent’s specific type of cancer, the long-term prognosis, and the available treatments. This knowledge will take part of the mystery out of the process and make you feel more confident. In some instances, psychotherapy can also prove beneficial. Including the immediate family in the form of group therapy can be extremely helpful along with individual treatment.