Tips for Family and Friends of Cancer Patients
Family members and friends are often profoundly affected by changes in a loved one's health.
Here are some tips to help family and friends cope with a loved one's cancer diagnosis:
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For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
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Feel free to ask the doctor questions if you accompany your loved one to an appointment. Write down questions so you don't forget them. Be prepared for changes in your loved one's behavior and mood. Medications, discomforts, and stress can cause someone with cancer to become depressed or angry. Encourage your loved one to be active and independent, as much as possible, to help him or her regain a sense of self-reliance and confidence. Be realistic about your own needs. Be sure you are sleeping enough, eating properly, and taking some time off for yourself. It is hard to offer much help when you are exhausted. Don't hesitate to ask other family members and friends for help. They will appreciate the opportunity.
Family members and friends of a person coping with cancer may also find themselves under a great deal of stress. To reduce your stress:
Try to keep a positive attitude. Accept that there are events you cannot control. Be assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive. Learn to relax. Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit. Eat well-balanced meals. Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress. Consider joining a support group to share your experiences and learn from others. It may help to feel like you're not alone.