There is no easy part of breast cancer. The initial surgery, chemotherapy, and reconstruction each have their own challenges. With that said, chemotherapy is often the most difficult and longest-lasting part of treatment. Let’s look at helping a loved one during chemo.
Helping a Loved One During Chemo
The extreme fatigue, constant nausea, and lack of reprieve makes chemotherapy physically and emotionally draining. The good news is that there are a number of ways that you can help. From one family that went through breast cancer to another, here are the things you can do to make the biggest difference.
Help Care for Dependents
If there are young children or pets then helping to care for them is the best thing you can possibly do to help someone going through chemotherapy.
You don’t have to be there long-term. The first two to three days after treatment are the worst. During that time, volunteer to help with getting the kids to school, take pets for walks, make sure homework gets done, whatever they need most.
Help Manage the Household
It is virtually impossible to keep a functioning household during chemotherapy if you don’t have help. Either volunteer or help hire someone to do laundry and clean the house once a week or so.
Food is a difficult subject during chemotherapy because the nausea can be intense. You can help by doing the grocery shopping, buying delivery gift cards, and making meals. If you are going to be making meals yourself, try to avoid their favorite foods unless they ask for them specifically.
In some cases, chemotherapy patients experience prolonged associations that spur nausea years after their therapy is over. The last thing you want is for them to have to run to the nearest trash can whenever they smell their favorite meal.
On a similar note, make sure foods are easy on the stomach. Light soups with whole grain bread can be a great place to start because they provide nutrition as well as hydration.
Join Them for Appointments
Going with them to meet up with their breast cancer surgeon in Houston or for a chemotherapy treatment can be a huge show of moral support. In some cases, your loved one may rather go alone, but you can always offer.
During appointments, you can help by keeping conversation light and allowing breaks in conversation when they’re tired. If there’s important information discussed, jot it down so that they’ll have a written copy for later.
Maintain a Semblance of Normalcy
Cancer is an all-encompassing disease. What many patients want more than anything else is to have a semblance of normalcy. You can help them achieve that by organizing activities on their good days and talking to them like you normally would.
There’s a major difference between offering help and offering pity. Give your loved one a break from pity and just be yourself. More than anything, they just want this whole thing to be over so you can go back to the way things were.
Care for the Person, Not the Cancer
While your loved one is receiving chemotherapy in Houston, you can rest assured that they’re getting the best medical care possible. It isn’t your job to care for your loved one’s cancer. It is your job to help support their emotional needs.
Doing a load of laundry and making a lasagna may not feel like a lot, but it helps to lift the weight of personal responsibility just a little bit. With the time you’ve given them, they can focus on caring for themselves and their loved ones.