Cancer Patient Care at the End of Life: Tips for Relatives and Friends
Cancer patient is certainly faced with a terrible blow. So are the relatives and friends. It must be hard to see your loved one having this fatal disease. It takes courage on the part of relatives and friends to face the critical situation. More difficult is to get the patients face the situation and enjoy new qualities in their life. Regardless of how the patient responds, care and support from relatives and friends are never wasted.
Cancer Patient Care and Support from Relatives and Friends
The best care that relatives and friends can give for a cancer patient is being there for him/her. Tell the person, who is ill, that you are always there. However, this might not be an easy thing to do even for relatives and friends, particularly at the time you know that your loved one develops the terminal disease. The following tips for caring and supporting cancer patient may help you:
- Deal with your own fears first. Supporting the patient is only possible when you can manage your fears. Get supports by discussing your fears with a third party, like a psychologist. In addition, a number of peer support, discussion, regional cancer associations, and rehabilitation courses may help you manage the stress.
- Give the best support as you can. Sometimes, being near to the cancer patient is enough. Tell him/her that you are there to offer help, even if the patient, who is ill, does not want to talk or even withdraws him/herself from communication. Do not get frustrated. If the patient does not respond today, she/he may do tomorrow. Always keep the optimism in your mind, as this is the source of strength in dealing with the person, who is ill.
- Continue doing things. The fact that one of your loved one has a terminal disease does not mean the end of your life. Get some sources of strengths by doing things you love the most. If recreations are the sources of strength in your family, keep enjoying them. Take the person, who is sick, to his/her favorite places.
- Make sure medical teams are there. When the cancer patient enters the phase of hospice care, make sure that medical teams are always there. Hospice care can be in given at home, hospital, or special hospice facility. You can choose one is most comfortable for you and the person, who is ill. Medical teams help in managing pain and other symptoms.
When Cancer Patient Needs Hospice Care
Hospice care is a term used for care near the end of life. Care in this stage does not treat the disease. Instead, it helps in meeting the physical, spiritual, and mental needs of the patient at the end of life. This stage is aimed at allowing the patient and the family to enjoy the best time left together.
Just like any other diseases, medical treatments work optimally when they are given at the beginning phase of the disease. When the disease reaches the final stage, even the best care does not help much. It may be hard to accept, but relatives and friends have to agree on the point that stopping the cancer treatment is the best thing. Instead of letting the loved one suffer due to invasive treatment, you had better enjoyed the time left together.
Hospice care helps the person, who is ill, and the relatives in pain management, easing symptoms with medical equipment and medicine, and addressing grief on the part of relatives and friends. The question is, “When do you know that the cancer patient needs hospice care?” Of course, physician is the one to let you know. The following are some signs when hospice care is more important than medical treatment:
- When medical treatment does not help much. When the cancer cells keep growing despite three different treatments given continuously, it is less likely that more treatment will help.
- When more treatments have more serious side effects than benefits. If continuous treatments can even shorten the patient’s life, it is the time to stop them, since the patient will end up suffering.
- When doctor does not think the patient will live for more than 6 months. The doctor will give you the information after analyzing the disease progress and prognosis.
- When the person, who is ill, decides that he/she does not want more treatments. In this phase, getting palliative care, or hospice care, helps the patient improve quality of life during the time left.
Stopping cancer treatment does not mean you give up. If treatments make the cancer patient suffer more than ever, it is better to enjoy the time left together. Then, the patient can spend the last days better.
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