October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to talk about how to cope with a loved one’s diagnosis of cancer. For someone diagnosed with cancer, having the support of family and friends is crucial to their well-being. However, it can be tough to know how to be help.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when a loved one has cancer:

Knowing what to say. It isn’t very helpful to say “you will be fine” or to try to make light of the situation. The truth is cancer is all too real. There are many unknowns, and sharing your fears and hopes will make cancer more manageable for the both of you. Tell your loved one that you are there for them, that you love them, and that you will be there with them for whatever comes.

Be helpful. Telling your loved one to “call if you need anything” isn’t the most helpful thing to say. People are hesitant to ask for things. Instead, consider some of the following:

  • If you are going to the grocery store, pick up some of the essentials (milk, toilet paper, bread) and non-essentials (a favorite snack or magazine) and drop them off at their home
  • Make a meal for them in a disposable dish with directions included
  • Plan an outing, whether it be dinner, a movie, a craft show, or a walk around the neighborhood. Plan a night in with movies, take-out, and favorite drinks

Listen. Your loved one might want to talk about the scary or sad thoughts that cancer forces a person to consider. As hard as it might be, it’s important to be there through those difficult conversations. Your ability to sit with them as they share those feelings is one of the most significant contributions you can make to their well-being.

Raise Awareness. On October 5th, downtown Omaha hosted the Nebraska Komen Race for the Cure. In a KMTV clip covering the event, Johnnie McGhee was happy to see the amount of people raising awareness for breast cancer. In the clip, McGhee says that “it didn’t used to be like this. I didn’t see anyone but myself and that was 40 some years ago. I didn’t know anybody had cancer but me.”

Let your loved one know you care by raising awareness. By doing this, they know they aren’t alone. They can meet others who are going through the same struggle.

Caring for a loved one through cancer can be exhausting, and it’s okay to feel that way. You might not feel that you can talk to anyone about your feelings; you might feel guilty for being exhausted while your loved one battles cancer. That’s where a therapist can really help. A therapist is there to listen, to be non-judgmental, and to help you find different outlets for your pain and exhaustion. In order to better help your loved one, you have to deal with your own feelings first.

To set up an appointment to see Reka, you can reach her at 402-881-8125. You can also email her at reka@omaha-counseling.com, or connect with her via Twitter or Facebook.

photo credit: Brandy Shaul via photopin cc