How to encourage your loved one to get a cancer screening

These days, pretty much everyone who smokes knows the risks. But that wasn’t true for earlier generations. Many baby boomers and their parents look back with fear and regret at decades spent smoking without giving much thought to their health.

“As someone who had smoked for 46 years … of course I had some apprehension about it,” said Salem resident Nel O., who was one of the first patients screened for lung cancer using low-dose CT at Salem Cancer Institute. “My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer eight years after she quit, so the fact that I quit was a good thing, but I had that shadow hanging over me, like, ‘What if?’”

The good news is, if that “What if?” shadow is hanging over someone you care about, a simple screening may be able to clear it. Here’s how to encourage you husband, wife, parent or friend to get screened for cancer:

Come from a place of caring

This is not a time to blame someone for lifestyle choices—like smoking or a poor diet—that might have raised their risk. Focus on the peace of mind that you will both gain from knowing whether or not cancer is developing.

Share the facts

Most people who get screened find out they are cancer-free. But even if the result comes back with suspected cancer, people who get regular screenings are more likely to have their cancer caught at an early stage when it can be treated more easily. That means they have higher survival rates and better quality-of-life.

Offer to come along

Sometimes people feel embarrassed about asking for help. Taking time to join them for the screening appointment shows your support.

Be a sounding board

While most screenings are quick and painless, waiting for results can be stressful. Reassure your loved one that you will be there for them no matter what the outcome is.