Where to Begin: Navigating a Loved One’s Cancer Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the patient. It also affects close friends and family members. These people must process strong emotions surrounding their loved one’s condition often while providing direct assistance and support. 

Below, the radiation oncologists at SERO offer insight into what to expect if you become a cancer caregiver. They also offer tips for ensuring you stay well, both physically and mentally.  

Phase I: Newly Diagnosed

It’s normal to feel lost after a spouse or parent receives a cancer diagnosis. You may worry about losing your loved one, how cancer will change your relationship with them, and what treatment will involve. In this section, we address many of these concerns.


Referral, Diagnosis, & Clinical Staging

If a primary care provider suspects cancer, your loved one may be referred to a specialist who can offer a more definitive diagnosis. Though this step can be scary, it helps to know what to expect.


Coping With a New Cancer Diagnosis

After receiving an official diagnosis, you may experience a range of emotions – from anger to sadness to shock. To help you process these feelings, our radiation oncologists have compiled tips on managing the anxiety of living with cancer.


What Is a Cancer Caregiver?

A cancer caregiver is someone, normally a friend or relative, who provides a cancer patient with direct assistance. Before you assume this role, it’s important that you know more about the responsibilities of caregiving and how it will affect your everyday life.


Supporting a Loved One With Cancer

Though it can be heart-wrenching to tell your children or grandchildren about your cancer diagnosis, hiding your illness is not the answer. Rather, you must equip yourself with the tools and knowledge needed to have an open and honest conversation.

Phase II: Radiation Treatment Planning

Once your loved one receives a definitive diagnosis, their oncologist will begin planning treatment. Below, we share resources that will help you better understand radiation therapy and what this phase of the cancer journey entails.


What Is Radiation Therapy

Though the thought of a loved one receiving radiation can be scary, radiation therapy is very common and effective. For peace of mind, learn more about radiotherapy before your friend or family member begins receiving treatment.


What Is a Cancer Treatment Plan

A cancer treatment plan offers specific information regarding a patient’s diagnosis, treatment modalities, and symptoms. As a caregiver, you can use your loved one’s cancer treatment plan to schedule care and manage symptoms. In the resource below, we discuss this valuable tool in more detail.


Best Apps for Cancer Patients & Caregivers

Caregiving can be stressful. Fortunately, tech developers have created a host of smartphone apps that make scheduling medical appointments, tracking side effects, and requesting support much easier.


Understanding the Costs of Cancer

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, money may be the least of your concerns. But it’s important to consider the financial costs of treatment and to explore avenues for affording high-quality care.


Complete List of Cancer Resources

You may feel compelled to shoulder all aspects of your loved one’s care. However, you should know it’s OK to ask for help. There are many charitable organizations, support groups, and other community resources that can ease the burden of care.

Phase III: In Treatment

Treatment is a scary step, both for patients and their caregivers. You may worry about how your loved one’s body will react to the treatment, whether they will experience severe side effects, and what support they will need from you. Below, we provide detailed insight into the cancer treatment phase.


Managing Side Effects

It’s not uncommon for radiotherapy patients to experience side effects like fatigue, hair loss, and skin issues. Here’s how you can help your loved one manage these symptoms.


Maintaining a Healthy Diet During Radiation Treatment

If your friend or relative experiences nausea or vomiting after radiotherapy, it can be hard to know what to cook. In this blog, we offer meal suggestions for patients undergoing cancer treatment.


Living Your Live as a Cancer Caregiver

When you assume the role of caregiver, your life changes dramatically. You may need to put your career on pause or even move to provide your loved one with 24/7 support. Though some challenges are inevitable, there are ways to make the most of your time as a caregiver.


How Radiation Affects the Immune System

The goal of radiation is to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, radiation can affect and sometimes damage surrounding cells including immune system cells. This can make your loved one more susceptible to life-threatening infections. To help boost their immune system, follow our radiation oncologist’s tips.

Phase IV: Survivorship or Disease Progression

When your friend or family member enters remission, you may feel a range of emotions – from relief to sadness to even confusion. However, just because your loved one has been deemed cancer-free, doesn’t mean their cancer journey has come to an end. Here’s what to expect now.


What Is Cancer Recurrence?

A cancer diagnosis is heart-breaking. But when the disease returns – a phenomenon known as cancer recurrence – it can be even more emotionally taxing. To help you understand why this happened, our radiation oncologists created a resource on cancer recurrence.


Survivorship Care Plan

The follow-up care your loved one will receive after finishing treatment is detailed in their survivorship care plan. Learning more about this care can provide the peace of mind you need to move forward.


Your Loved One's Health After Cancer Remission

Even after being deemed cancer-free, your friend or family member may need time to fully recover. Educate yourself on positive lifestyle modifications, like healthy eating and regular exercise, and encourage your loved one to make these changes.


Long-Term and Late Treatment Side Effects

Unfortunately, cancer treatment can cause long-term side effects. From fibrosis to second cancers, these side effects can be very serious. However, by becoming aware of these issues, you can help your loved one take preventative action.

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