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Practical tips to support cancer patients

World Cancer Day, held every year on 4 February, is a global initiative uniting people everywhere to face one of humanity’s greatest health challenges.

This year’s global theme is: Uniting our voices and taking action. This emphasises that beating cancer is a team effort. Together, we can take action and become part of our loved ones’ treatment tribe and support them through their treatment journeys. With world-class technologies and clinical multidisciplinary teams, quality oncology care can combine with community care to support patients on their cancer journey so they can look forward to life’s moments.

Life Healthcare, a leading international healthcare provider believes that there is a lot that families and communities can do to achieve improved outcomes. One of the areas they can help is to support their friends and loved ones on their journey, as part of their “oncology treatment tribe”. Here are some examples from the expert caregivers and doctors at Life Healthcare…

Treat them like a person, not a patient Your loved one is the same friend or family member they always were, but they are facing a serious, potentially debilitating condition. Bear this in mind, and treat them the same way you always have, while considering their specific needs related to their cancer journey.

Run some errands Low energy is one of the main side-effects of treatment. Running errands that we usually take for granted can be hugely tiring for someone with the disease. You can be a big help by picking up the groceries, taking the kids to school, or just doing the dishes.

Prepare meals, or order in Cooking can be equally challenging when living with cancer. Give your loved one a bit less to worry about. Organise dinner. Otherwise, help with meal prep, and prepare a week’s worth of dinners and stock the fridge or the freezer!

Download a movie, or some music When we’re not feeling great, quality entertainment can elevate our mood, and take our minds off the difficulties we’re facing. Take the initiative and put together a selection of fun options to keep your loved one in a good space.

Sit in on consults and take notes Offer to accompany your friend or family member to their appointments with their cancer specialists. Conditions such as brain fog are real, and it can be a great help if you keep a record of the insights the medical team shares, for discussing later.

Provide a care package While highly beneficial, cancer treatments can be draining. While your friend gathers their strength between visits to the oncology centre, a package of soothing items – creams, balms, and mineral water – can make them feel better and remind them that they are loved. Caregivers who are empathetic in nature can often feel helpless when their loved one is presented with a cancer diagnosis. What helps, is for caregivers to assist in the most practical forms. This can positively impact the patient’s emotional and mental well-being which, in turn, contributes to a more positive treatment experience.

Be there More than anything, your loved one needs to know that people care about them. Stay in touch – to talk, to help or just to be present. You are part of their team and on the cancer journey together. And together, you can beat cancer!


About Life Oncology

Five world-class Life Oncology units in Gauteng, KZN, Free State, Western Cape, and Gaborone (Botswana) deliver the most advanced oncology care in a warm, friendly environment. Substantial investments in technologies have been made to place units at the forefront of advanced treatments in surgical, medical, gynaecological and radiation oncology. Life Oncology units offer tailor-made treatment programmes for each patient, with advanced care for rare and common types of cancer. Life Oncology units are situated in or next to Life Healthcare hospitals, making admission to the hospital oncology wards, if necessary, simple and easy.