Oncology nurse shares proper etiquette in providing emotional support to cancer patients

Local Health Alert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – “Things that you say –and how you say them– can really affect them,” said Andria Brown.

Andria Brown is an oncology nurse at Saint Francis Hospital. In her day-to-day rounds, she sees patients fighting cancer at all stages, as well as their families. Learned from personal experience, she shares some things you should say to provide support, without offending a loved one who recently received a cancer diagnosis.

“I’m just here for you, whatever you need. If you need me to help clean the house, or pick up the kids, just ask, ‘What do you need from me?’,” she says.

You should never say things like this, she says, “Oh, I know what you’re going through.” She says that’s especially important because everyone’s experience is different.

While it’s only human nature to want to provide an empathetic response, she says comparing experiences often times does more harm than good. Aside from those currently fighting cancer, there are certain ways you should treat someone who recently lost a loved one to cancer. Nurse Brown says you should avoid using cliches when you comfort those individuals.

She said, “Everyone handles grief differently, so it’s not a great thing to ever say that ‘they’re in a better place’.” Instead, just be there. There’s power in being an active listener.

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