A cancer diagnosis is a devastating blow for anyone to experience, but when you find out your mom has cancer, your whole world turns upside down.
After a lifetime of Mom nursing your wounds and taking care of you when you’re sick, suddenly you may have to be the caretaker. You have to be the cheerleader. You have to be the support system.
And in those days following her cancer diagnosis, you probably never appreciated her more.
This role reversal probably has you asking yourself, “How can I best care for my mom with cancer?” So here are five items we compiled based on our conversations with cancer survivors and caretakers.
1. Ask her what she needs – specifically.
Mom probably knows exactly what she needs in this difficult time, but she may not want to ask for it. Asking for help can be really uncomfortable even when we’re sick, so let Mom know that she can ask for help, and she can be specific about it. She may find it helpful for you to mop the floor, but because of her cancer diagnosis, she may need it cleaned in a specific way with special cleaning supplies. Make sure Mom knows that there is no request too specific. You want to make her comfortable.
2. Bring a positive outlook.
A cancer diagnosis can bring depression right along with it. When you’re visiting your mom, try to stay positive and hopeful, and don’t feel guilty about telling her wonderful news about your life. She wants you to be happy, and she will share in your joy.
3. Make her feel special – but also normal.
You appreciate Mom more than ever right now, so don’t be afraid to show her that. Get her the special gift that you may not have splurged on in the past. Say the things you always wanted to say. — But also, don’t be weird. Talk to her about normal events, share your life’s little stressors, and confide in her the way you always have. In other words, still let Mom feel like Mom.
4. Take care of yourself.
Your mom can’t stop worrying about you. It’s never going to happen. You can tell her not to worry about you and to just focus on getting better, but she’s not going to stop worrying. So, the biggest gift you can give Mom is to take care of yourself. Take care of your health, get your rest, live a healthy lifestyle, and prioritize what’s important. Only when your mom knows that you’re taking care of you, will she be able to focus on taking care of herself.
5. Respect her journey.
One of the most difficult things about supporting another person through cancer treatment, is respecting their choices. Whether it’s choosing to undergo an experimental treatment or choosing not to engage in cancer-preventing lifestyle choices, we don’t always agree with the path that our loved one takes. Whether or not you agree with the path that Mom chooses, respect her. That will provide her with what she needs most of all right now: your unconditional love.
Do you have a suggestion of how to best care for Mom with cancer? Did we miss something important from the list? Please comment below!