How to Know What to do for Your Family Member with Cancer


Has your loved one been diagnosed with cancer?
If so, you may be thinking, “now what?”
It’s normal to feel lost and unsure of how to best support your loved on during this time. After all, it’s a time of some of the most extreme emotions your loved one might ever experience.

As someone who has both had cancer, and has also lived through loved ones including my mother and my brother being diagnosed with cancer — I have a unique understanding of the type of support needed.

1. Encourage stress relieving activities.

We’ve talked about this before on my blog, but remaining as stress free as possible is important to helping the body heal.
I understand that this is easier said than done when you’re faced with a life threatening disease. So it’s likely your loved one will need as much assistance as possible in this area!
Some ways you can help are:

  • Go on slow walks in the sunshine with them, if they are feeling up to it!
  • Gift them some essential oils that promote peace and calm. You can view my favorite ones here. Young Living even has a proprietary Peace & Calming Blend.
  • Take a gentle yoga class with them.
  • Run them a bath before bed. Taking a bath with epsom salts and essential oils before bed can help them get to sleep faster and rest more comfortably.

2. Help them find the best care.

When you’re handed a scary diagnosis, sometimes it’s all you can do to keep your head above water. Be your loved one’s advocate for finding the right medical team and right treatment for them.
Encourage them to get a second opinion and help them research treatment options.
Don’t rule out complementary therapies like yoga, counseling, nutritional programs and meditation as well.

3. Don’t try too hard.

It’s ok if you don’t know what to say.
Listen without putting the expectation on yourself to know the right response. Be comfortable with sitting in silence with your loved one.
The truth is that you will never, and can never, have the exact same experience they are having. And that’s ok!
You don’t have to try to take on their pain.
You can’t! And trying to will only exhaust you. By letting go of the idea that you can make it easier for them if you feel their pain too, you’re giving them a safe space to feel what they’re feeling without worrying if they’re burdening you.
Just be present for them, and follow their cues as whether they feel like talking about it, distracting themselves for a while with an activity, or resting in your company.

4. Offer practical help.

Small things like walking their dog, picking their kids up from school, grabbing their favorite food from the store when you’re buying groceries…
It doesn’t have to be complicated for it to lighten their load and make them feel cared for.
At the end of the day, each person is individualized in what kind of support will make them feel the most loved.
Don’t be afraid to ask a simple “What can I do for you?”