Whether your loved one has undergone treatment or is scheduled to start soon, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the follow-on effects that cancer treatment may have. While each case will vary depending on the type of cancer and treatment approach, supporting your loved one is paramount to the recovery process.
Often when we don’t understand what our loved one is going through, we can make meaning out of their actions, behaviour or attitude post-treatment. We know that being the caregiver—regardless of relationship status, brings about a unique set of challenges. That’s why we encourage you to equip yourself with the facts so that you can nurture, support and navigate this period effectively.
Some ways you can offer support to your loved one after cancer treatment include:
- Romantic partners: discuss how the surgery may impact the sexual nature of the relationship and general day-to-day interactions
- Bring as much positivity to the relationship as you can
- Encourage your loved one to share their feelings and emotions—before, during and after treatment, emotion intensity increases and can linger from hours to weeks, to months. Be present and listen intently. Allow them to share their experience without needing to change their perception or state of mind at that moment. This will allow them to express rather than repress emotions, which can lead to emotional turmoil and stress
- Offer emotional and/or physical support when needed
- Respect their personal and physical space
- Respect their sexual boundaries, which are likely to have shifted
- Encourage laughter
- Take a break: engage in light physical activity where appropriate, or get out into nature
- Surround yourself with a support network whether that’s friends, a counsellor or community counselling group. Proactively dealing with your role as caregiver and its challenges positively impact the relationship with your loved one
- Consider complementary therapies like yoga, or spiritual practices relevant to your respective beliefs/faith.