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URMC / Employee Assistance Program / News & Events / UR Medicine EAP Blog / March 2024 / Supporting a Loved One Who Has Cancer

Supporting a Loved One Who Has Cancer

Upon learning that a loved one has received a cancer diagnosis, you may find it challenging to determine the most supportive and comforting words to express or the best way to offer your support. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Be positive and encouraging. Don’t allow fear of unintentionally causing distress to keep you from this role. Your loved one will understand you care and want to be helpful.
  2. Listening is your most crucial role. You can’t "fix" the circumstance, but listening is a powerful tool. Do not feel you must produce a "right" answer or "solution" to what the person is experiencing. They may just need you to listen to their story.
  3. Don’t back away or be avoidant of the person, instead use visits and contacts to show them you care. They may just need the outreach.
  4. You may want to say, "If you need me for anything, just ask." Instead, you may want to offer something specific that you can do to lessen a burden they may have.

    For example: 
    1. When you are going shopping offer to pick up food or other things that may need.
    2. If you can provide transportation, offer to take them to an appointment or set up a schedule of when you are available when they need some help. Specific offers may make is easier for the person to reach out for help. It may provide them comfort that they have you as a resource to decrease their worry over how they are going to accomplish something.
    3. No matter how the world is communicating in the electronic age, a personal phone call or a card via “snail” mail is still a welcome and more personal format to provide support.
  5. Contact EAP for help in navigating your emotions about the diagnosis and you’ll feel more empowered to be supportive during this critical time.

Learn more here: How to Support A Friend with Cancer

Keith Stein | 3/14/2024

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