When Someone You Love Receives A Terminal Diagnosis
Medical science is a wonderful thing. It’s enabled us to live long and healthy lives far past the wildest imaginings of previous generations. It’s empowered us with knowledge that’s enabled us to live happier and healthier lives. It’s led to breakthroughs in the treatment of illnesses believed to be incurable and as we usher in a new era of medical technology with gene editing at the forefront it seems as though there’s no genetic aberration or malignant microbe that we can’t bend to our will. But as advanced as medical science has gotten it is not infallible, and the exciting new strides we’ve taken as a species are of cold comfort to someone who’s been given a terminal diagnosis by their doctor.
If someone you love; a parent, sibling, friend, family member, colleague or lover has been diagnosed with a terminal, or potentially terminal, illness it can feel as though you don’t know what to do for them. You want to help them in any way you can without feeling as though you’re intruding on their lives, nanying them or depriving them of the solitude they need to process what’s happening. While there’s no comprehensive way to do this, here are some pointers to keep your interactions with them healthy and moving in the right direction…
Encourage them to seek palliative care
Many who have received terminal diagnoses wait until right until the last moment to seek palliative care, but a hospice can be of colossal benefit for those coping with incurable illnesses. A hospice is not where someone goes to die. It’s where they go to receive treatment that can enhance their quality of life in a wide array of meaningful ways. It behoves you to at least encourage them to check out the website of a local hospice to browse services They can aid pain relief, help to coordinate their care, assist them in day to day living and, perhaps just as importantly, help you and others supporting the patient with counselling.
Respect their process but be there for when they need you
Everyone deals with trauma in different ways. Some people need a hug, others need to be left alone. Some like to plan meticulously while others will run as far away as they can from their problems. As a result, it’s difficult to know how best to help. You don’t want to interfere but you want to neglect even less. In this instance the most effective phrase can be “Just call me if you need me”.
Make sure they eat right
Just because you’ve received a terminal diagnosis doesn’t mean that you should give up on or stop looking after your body. Quite the opposite in fact. Ensuring that you get plenty of vital nutrients and phytochemicals can go a long way in treating an illness or at the very least its symptoms. This stage 4 cancer survivor, for example, swears that he beat his condition by switching to an entirely whole foods, plant based diet.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone is to cook them something delicious and nutritious.