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Caregiving Basic Dos and Don'ts 101

Do

  • Take cues from the person WITH cancer. Respect her need to share or her need for privacy. 
  • Respect her decisions about how her cancer will be treated, even if you disagree.
  • Include her in common projects, plans, and social events. Let her be the one to tell you if the commitment is too much to manage.
  • Listen without always feeling that you have to respond. Sometimes a caring listener is what she needs the most.
  • Expect her to have good days and bad days, emotionally and physically.
  • Keep your relationship as normal and balanced as possible. While greater patience and compassion are called for during times like these, your loved one should continue to respect your feelings, as you respect hers. 

Don't

  • Offer advice she did not ask for or be judgmental.
  • Feel you must put up with severe displays of temper or mood swings. You shouldn't accept disruptive or abusive behavior just because someone is ill. 
  • Take things too personally. It is normal for a person with cancer to be quieter than usual, to need time alone, and be angry at times. 
  • Be afraid to talk about the illness.
  • Always feel you have to talk about cancer. She may enjoy conversations that don't involve their illness.
  • Be afraid to hug or touch your loved one if that was a part of your relationship before the illness.
  • Be patronizing. Try to avoid using a "How sick are you today?" tone when asking how she is doing.
  • Tell your loved one, "I can imagine how you must feel," because you really cannot. No one can. 
  • Be in a constant proximity of your loved one with cancer if you are sick, have a fever or any other signs of infection. 
Acquired from American Cancer Society, Caregiver Resource Guide: Caring for a Loved One with Cancer