If someone close to you, say a family member or friend, has recently been diagnosed with bile duct cancer, specifically involving Klatskin tumors, you may be struggling with what to say or how best to help.
However, it doesn’t need to be a struggle. In fact, there are many things you can do for your loved one to help them through the entire process from diagnosis, to treatment, and even afterwards during recovery.
Many organizations, such as the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS), believe in the powerful connection between the health of cancer patients and the strength of their support system, often coming in the form of family and friends. Today, we will look at some of the best ways you can be as supportive as possible for a loved one who is diagnosed with having Klatskin tumors, making a diagnosis of cancer a little less awful.
Supporting a Loved One Diagnosed with Cancer
Oftentimes someone recently diagnosed with cancer will want to express feelings ranging from hope to utter despair. It can sometimes take time for a cancer diagnosis to fully settle emotionally leaving your loved one struggling to sort their feelings out. Here are some tips for listening in a positive way:
- Don’t judge too harshly or cheerlead too much. Providing your loved one a safe place to vent true feelings, regardless of how you feel about the situation, is one of the best things you can do.
- Always keep an open line of communication and be obvious about it. Try saying things like “I am always here for you if you ever need to talk about anything.”
- Support your loved one’s decisions, even when you disagree. Being a trusted friend or relative is important as your loved one tries to make big decisions regarding their health. Be open to new ideas and seeing all options.
- Do not let the initial impact of a cancer diagnosis wear off and cause you to close off to your loved one. Many times cancer patients feel lonely as they go through the treatment process because everyone goes back to their normal lives after the initial shock of the illness is announced. Check in regularly even if just to say hi.
Watch the Advice Giving
Closely related to being a good listener is trying to avoid giving unwanted advice. Friends and family often take on the heavy burden of diving deep into a Klatskin tumor diagnosis, attempting to research everything from diagnosis to remission, as well as everything in between. While this can be helpful, many cancer patients are too overwhelmed to hear about “what they should be doing” from everyone that cares for them.
While your loved one may not be perceptive to you doling out what you feel is sound advice every time they see you, they will appreciate that you understand their diagnosis so that you can come with a certain level of sympathy when around.
Check out reputable organizations such as CancerCare, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute. These groups are dedicated to educating the public about lots of different types of cancer, including bile duct cancer. This can prove useful to you in helping you understand your loved one’s emotional state, cancer symptoms, treatment procedures, and more.
Be Specific About How You Can help
Simply stating that you can help with whatever is needed is vague and may cause your loved one to feel uncomfortable asking for anything. Rarely do people jump at the chance to ask for help from others. Plus, illness has an unusual way of making people feel defeated and they may resist coming right out and saying they need help.
Instead, try offering to do specific things to help, such as:
- Offer to spend Monday nights watching your favorite TV show together, or going out to Sunday brunch every weekend.
- Shop for groceries or pick up the dry cleaning.
- Walk the dog every morning.
- Drive and stay as company during treatment days.
- Care for the lawn or pool.
The point is to make things a little easier on your loved one without causing them to feel dependent on you or ashamed for accepting your help.
Keep Things Normal
While it is okay to acknowledge a cancer diagnosis, and all of the things that come with one, it is also important to respect your loved one and continue living life. Sure, there will be things your loved one cannot do anymore because of symptoms, doctor’s visits, and treatments, but there is no reason that life has to turn dull and boring.
Sometimes participating in daily life can take your loved one’s mind off cancer, if even for a short period of time. Do not treat a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, no matter how advanced it may be. Quality of life is just as important as quantity and enjoying whatever life anyone has left in this world is what matters.
Don’t Forget the Caregiver
Caregivers of those with cancer are often parents, spouses, partners, or adult children. They take on the huge responsibility of caring for their loved one not in a weekly Sunday brunch kind of approach, but in a more serious way. Medical appointments, financial arrangements, and considerable emotional support come from caregivers. They are the most trusted individuals and are by their loved one’s side through every turn cancer brings.
This responsibility can take a toll on a person after a long time. Watching someone close to your experience something like bile duct cancer is hard, especially when trying to keep a brave face. Additionally, the normal household roles may have switched, making each side feel out of place and unsure.
As someone not entrusted to do the more serious tasks assigned a caregiver, it is nice to lend a helpful hand to the caregiver every occasionally. They too need to care for themselves and without other people picking up the slack, they have no time to relax and decompress.
Be Receptive After Treatment
During the initial diagnosis, and throughout the treatment process, your loved one may not fully digest the severity of a cancer diagnosis. In addition, they may be distracted with symptoms, treatment, and financial concerns. Sometimes after treatment is completed, your loved may still need significant emotional support coming to terms with the situation they have just endured.
Bile duct cancer, especially when involving Klatskin tumors, can take its toll on a person’s emotional and physical well-being. When someone we know and love is diagnosed with cancer, it is important that we understand that although they are strong and can get through it, everyone can use a friend and a helping hand during challenging times.
If you know someone recently diagnosed with Klatskin tumors, consider referring them to Dr. Fraiman of The Liver and Pancreas Center in Towson, Maryland. An expert in treating liver cancers, specifically those related to the bile duct and involving Klatskin tumors, Dr. Fraiman also understands that many other people are affected when a patient is diagnosed with cancer.
Knowing that cancer treatment is an individualized process, and having a team focused on support through every stage of the healing process, you can trust your loved ones to be treated well under the care of Dr. Fraiman.