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How to Support Someone with Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is often an aggressive form of cancer with an unfortunately low five-year survival rate. It falls under two main types: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. For example, a Pancoast tumor is usually a small cell lung cancer with a 26.6% survival rate. Generally, lung cancers have an 18.6% survival rate.

Given the poor outlook, learning that a loved one has lung cancer is heartbreaking. From that moment on, you know that life may never be the same, and you will inevitably want to do everything you can to help them. So, whether your parent, sibling, partner, or friend has lung cancer, here are some of the ways you can support them.

Learn About the Illness

The first step you should take is researching the condition; the more you know about it, the more you can help. Part of this research involves speaking with doctors; another will come from researching it on the web.

On top of looking at scientific facts, you might also want to reach out to other people dealing with lung cancer to understand how they get through it. This information can help you assist your loved one.


You might have a lot to say (or you might not be able to find the words at all), but the best thing you can do to support your loved one with lung cancer is to listen to them. Be an open ear for whatever they are feeling or thinking.

Even if they want to rant about the medical procedures they have to go through, let them. It is an incredibly challenging time, and having someone to listen can make a world of difference.

Assist with Chores

One of the most common symptoms of lung cancer is fatigue. Plus, that fatigue will only worsen if they go through chemotherapy. That is why one of the best ways to assist a person with lung cancer is by helping with chores.

Do tasks they might not have the energy to complete, such as cooking, cleaning, and running to the store. If you don’t live with them, try making a double batch of meals from time to time to take over. It’s the little things that truly make a huge difference.

Take Them to Appointments

Any person with lung cancer will have multiple appointments to attend – and some will be longer and further away than others. If you want to help, one of the best ways is to take them to appointments.

Drive them there and pick them up to ensure they get there and back safely and comfortably. Your loved one may even request you to sit with them through the appointment for extra support, which is a loving way to help them cope with the process.

Ask Them How You Can Help

While you can help with chores and emotional support, there’s not much you can do medically – you must leave that part to the healthcare professionals. So, if you are stuck on what you can do, it’s okay to simply ask your loved one.

By asking them directly how you can help, you can use the answer to support them in the best way they need. It is easier than guessing!

Don’t Expect Miracles

There is a chance that your loved one will pull through and live for a long time after their lung cancer diagnosis. That is especially true with all the medical breakthroughs happening in the modern day. What you shouldn’t do, though, is expect miracles.

For instance, don’t tell your loved one they will 100% survive for another twenty years. That kind of optimism might seem kind, but it likely won’t comfort them the way you intend. Instead, try to be realistic as well as optimistic, and avoid using concrete terms.

Take Them to Support Groups

No matter how much of a good listener you are, your loved one should try to talk to others about their lung cancer diagnosis – specifically, others who have been or are currently going through the same.

By taking your loved one to support groups, they can gain a wealth of comfort and understanding about their diagnosis. Most of all, they will feel less alone.

Look After Your Own Health

Your loved one should receive the most support, but that doesn’t mean you should push your health aside. After all, it isn’t easy to look after someone else when you aren’t healthy yourself.

If you ever feel overwhelmed, take a step back and assess your own health. You might need a break, a breather, or perhaps a doctor’s visit for yourself. There are even support groups for the friends and families of people with cancer.

Don’t Shower Them with Advice

For example, you might have read an interesting article on the benefits of turmeric for lung cancer, but try to avoid bombarding your loved one with advice. It might come from a good place, but it could overwhelm them and make them feel pressured to try a bunch of things they may not want to.

Ultimately, the doctors know best. If you have questions about a natural remedy, talk to your loved one’s doctors about it.

Accept the Change

It’s important to understand and accept that things won’t be as they once were. Your loved one might not feel up for Saturday nights at the movies, and the chances are their mood might change significantly.

Instead of pushing for things to go back to how they were, accept the change in circumstance and go with the flow. Don’t look back – instead, move toward a more positive future.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

While your loved one is undoubtedly suffering the most, the friends and family of people with cancer also endure a lot of pain and struggle. If you feel like you can’t handle it, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For example, you might consider seeking more healthcare assistance for your loved one, or you may wish to try counseling to help you emotionally.

Final Thoughts

A lung cancer diagnosis changes everything. Although there is no one size fits all approach, the above advice might help you help your loved one after their diagnosis.

Remember, many healthcare professionals spend their time working toward better treatment options. While a lung cancer diagnosis is heartbreaking, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end.

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