No one is ever prepared for the sickness of a loved one. When someone you are close to gets cancer, your whole world can be turned upside down. It is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. Not to mention, navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming and also a lot of work. That’s why we have compiled a list of five things you can do to support a loved one with a cancer diagnosis.
Go to all appointments with your loved one
Having the support of a friend or family member is incredibly important for your loved one’s mental health. Stark waiting rooms with other cancer patients waiting to hear the news that they don’t want to hear is never a positive environment. You might think they will be fine, but it is easy to get overwhelmed. They need your emotional support and an advocate to act on their behalf.
Take notes during every appointment
When someone is dealing with strong emotions, it’s easy for them to think they will remember everything that the doctor or nurse told them, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking notes during the appointment will ensure that nothing is forgotten or missed, and you can review them later if need be.
Ask for the physician’s best contact number and email
If you have ever tried to get a hold of someone at a hospital, you will know that this isn’t always easy. It can take multiple phone calls and jumping through hoops to get the person you are looking for. Having a physician’s best contact number or email allows you to reach that person with less stress, something that is already in high supply during a diagnosis.
Ask to be copied on all doctor communication
Often with a cancer diagnosis, there are multiple doctors and communications between each doctor. If you are copied on all communication, even if you don’t participate in the correspondence, you can stop errors before they happen, such as putting down the wrong birthday or wrong medications or even noting the wrong body part altogether. Doctors and nurses get busy, and mistakes can happen.
Know your rights and advocate for what your loved one needs
There can be the feeling that you can’t question a doctor or nurse as they are the experts, but you know your loved one the best. If you aren’t sure if something is possible, ASK! Know your rights and advocate for what your loved one needs. We are the owners of all health records.
Also, if you have questions or comments while at the hospital, make notes on your loved one’s patient clipboard; you are allowed to touch this! We suggest always bringing a pen and paper to the hospital. Usually, hospitals will also have whiteboards you can access.
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT COVID-19
Even though most hospitals have policies right now that you can’t accompany a loved one unless they are children, please stress you are not a visitor; you are an essential care partner. If they insist you leave, then we would suggest agreeing under set conditions.
For example, you are made aware of all communication; and any other important information about the care of your loved one. Do keep in mind that nurses and hospitals are incredibly busy at this time, and emotions are all over. Some empathy and compassion will go a long way with nurses, doctors, and staff.
At Integrity Healthcare Consultants, our team has a history of helping navigate on a patient’s behalf. If you can’t be there for your loved one because you live far away or can’t make specific appointments because of other obligations, email us or give us a call. We understand that life happens, and you may have to work, take care of a child, or hundreds of other reasons, and it’s not always possible to be as involved as you would like.
Lastly, going through a cancer diagnosis is challenging. If your loved one needs someone to speak to, we also offer mental health support and much more.