How to treat a cancer patient emotionally

Those who have received a cancer diagnosis will have a lot to consider. When receiving treatment, not only their physical needs, but also their emotional and mental needs will need to be considered.  

The emotional side of cancer refers to things such as dealing with the stress of the diagnosis, coming to terms with the diagnosis, self-care during treatment, and the financial and legal side when locating support. All of this can affect an individual’s ability to stick to a treatment plan.  

To help assist with meeting these needs, social workers can help find resources that can support families during this difficult period. Receiving this kind of support means the individual can focus on their treatment plan and come to terms with their diagnosis in a healthy way.  

personal care assistant helping with hot drinks

Below are some tips on how to maintain emotional wellbeing after receiving a cancer diagnosis.  

Talk to someone outside the family  

It can feel overwhelming after receiving a diagnosis, and you will likely want to turn to those closest to you. While this can be a good idea, it is also beneficial to seek the advice and expertise of people outside the family, who can give you impartial advice.  

Clinical social workers and other care professionals can offer useful advice, support, and how to access valuable resources family members may not know about. Additionally, talking to someone who does not know you can provide a good opportunity to discuss things you may not feel comfortable discussing with family or friends.  

Plan ahead  

Do some research into things that may benefit you in the future. It might seem premature, but planning can certainly help you in the future. Services such as meals on wheels, transportation services, or home care services can greatly help with day-to-day tasks, appointments, and assisting with your health and wellbeing.  

Continue with daily activities  

Continue with your daily life (where possible), but if you need to modify your tasks or change your routine, that’s fine too. It’s good to stay on top of things that feel purposeful and offer you some control.  

Find support that works for you  

Support can look very different depending on the individuals’ needs and preferences. It’s important to see what support is out there and what is most beneficial to you. Not everyone will benefit from the same type of support, so it’s good to see what is available. For some, they may prefer a support system such as support groups or online support and benefit from social interaction. For others, they may prefer assistance with how best to care for themselves going forward, such as diet, lifestyle, finances, etc.  

Balancing in-person support with online support 

During treatment, there may be times when you face some physical limitations or experience your immune system at risk of being compromised. At these times it is important to balance online support and still seek out emotional and mental support and understand this is only for the short term.  

Reach out  

As an individual close to someone with a cancer diagnosis, it can be a good idea to routinely check in on your friend or loved one. Perhaps not always about their illness, ask them about other things or engage in interests or hobbies they have to take their mind off their illness. It’s important to remember you are their support system and that support can manifest in many ways.  

Additionally, if you feel your friend or loved one is struggling, you can reach out to the applicable support networks, such as communities or support workers, and try to gather information on how best to help them.  

Be supportive but realistic 

It can be incredibly tiring for someone with an illness to hear “it’s all going to be alright” repeatedly. It is important to be optimistic and give them hope, but not drown them in it as this can lead to more emotional turmoil for the individual. Listen to their worries and concerns and give them applicable advice and support.