If your loved one is a male cancer patient, you are probably wondering how you can support them on their journey towards recovery. Cancer is physically and emotionally taxing, and it can be challenging for men to maintain a sense of confidence and connection while they undergo treatments. Here are some resources and tips you can rely on to provide cancer emotional support for your loved one.
How to Support Cancer Patients
Supporting cancer patients takes various skills and a healthy dose of patience. A cancer diagnosis can make men feel like they are being robbed of their masculinity. Being present and available for your loved one is essential, but you don’t have to be their sole support person. Several online support groups are available for male cancer patients that can make your loved one’s cancer journey a little easier.
Online Support for Cancer Patients
Certain types of cancer, like prostate cancer, come with a burdensome stigma for men. Finding a network of peers who have been through cancer can be incredibly validating, uplifting, and comforting for your loved one. Types of online support groups for male patients include religion-based, age-specific, and groups of men who have the same kind of cancer. They can also join groups with people who have different types of cancer. Finding the right support group is essential, and the benefits are undeniable. Sometimes, the best thing for your loved one is to talk to another man who understands what they are going through without fearing being judged.
Providing Emotional Support
When it comes to supporting cancer patients, you can provide two types of support. The first is cancer emotional support. Although men may not be as quick to show their emotions as women, this support is incredibly important. Ways to show emotional support include being a good, empathetic listener, respecting when they don’t want to talk about feelings, giving appropriate physical affection, and maintaining a sense of normalcy. Most cancer patients don’t want to talk about their cancer 24/7. Provide them with the space to talk about other topics, and never pressure them to open up.
Providing Practical Support
The other type of support is practical or physical support. Cancer and cancer treatments can cause unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, nausea, and brain fog. These symptoms can make completing ordinary tasks such as housekeeping, cooking, shopping, and running errands difficult. If you live with a male cancer patient, be prepared to take on a larger share of household tasks. If you don’t live with them, you can provide practical support by bringing them meals, doing laundry and dishes, driving them to appointments, and caring for pets and children. Some men may initially refuse help, but don’t take it personally. Continue to gently and kindly offer your support.
Mental Health and Cancer in Men
Cancer can make many men feel like they are losing their identity. They may feel emasculated and disconnected from their friends. When they can’t play backyard football with their buddies or go to work to provide for their families, it can negatively impact their mental health. For this reason, men need to stay connected to their communities and find networks of other men who know exactly what they are going through. Connecting with others can reduce depression and anxiety during your loved one’s cancer journey. Here are some ways you can encourage your loved one to stay connected while they are navigating life with cancer.
- Having a guy’s night at home
- Encouraging him to invite friends over to watch tv or play cards
- Joining cancer support groups and finding friends who “get it”
- Reading inspirational stories from other men who have beat cancer
- Setting boundaries with friends who mock or belittle his cancer battle
How Men Can Stay Healthy and Prevent Cancer
While even the healthiest people can still get cancer, you and your loved ones can take plenty of steps to reduce your risk. Prostate and skin cancer are two of the most common types for men. While health trends come and go, the basics remain the same. Here are timeless tips men can use to lead a healthy life and reduce their risk of cancer.
- Eat mostly fruits and vegetables
- Don’t smoke
- Limit alcohol
- Reduce red meat consumption
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing
- Get regular exercise
- Reduce stress as much as possible
Prioritizing mental and physical health before, during, and after cancer is incredibly important. Encouraging your loved one to eat right, exercise, and stay connected can help them prevent cancer or make navigating cancer a little bit easier.