3 Ways in Which You Can Help Support a Cancer Survivor

1267 Story Views


3 Ways in Which You Can Help Support a Cancer Survivor

A Common Sense Guide to Being There for a Friend Diagnosed With Cancer

This article's intent is to provide those who are friends with a person diagnosed with cancer to learn some helpful guidelines and absorb some crucial tips to help them focus on helping, supporting and bolstering their ill friend in crucial – and appropriate -- ways. Sometimes, less can be more and the little things speak the loudest in such gut-wrenching and heartbreaking situations.

Covered first is what you can do immediately following the news of a cancer diagnosis. Every relationship dynamic is different and confusion and indecision are common here. Should you visit? When? What gifts are best to send? Tips on these questions and other items to support your ill friend will be addressed.

Next will be tips and recommendations on how to bolster up your friend for the long haul.

The last section will touch on some eye-opening points that will aid you in your efforts to really and truly be there for your friend in their ongoing time of need. Some tips for caregivers in maintaining their own emotional and mental health will be given.

What to Do Right Away After News of a Friend's Cancer Diagnosis

Before heading out to visit your friend, it is important to reach out beforehand, whether they're in the hospital or at home. The situation for your friend is likely to be chaotic and unpredictable so soon after a diagnosis, so make your best efforts to arrange a visit. Try to be flexible and understanding, though, if your friend can't get back to you right away or if the visit is canceled at the last minute.

When visiting, be careful not to overstay your welcome. You don't want your friend to feel obligated to entertain you. A simple way to ensure you don't stay too long is to say, "I will stay longer, unless you would like me to leave and return another time?"

It is often hard for someone who is ill to ask for help, even when it's direly needed. As your friend probably can't do normal, run-on-the-mill tasks just yet, such small jobs as doing laundry, going grocery shopping, babysitting and even setting up a social media page to keep other people in the loop on how your friend is copying, treatment updates, etc., are likely exactly what your friend needs help with the most.

Write down tasks you think you can do, and simply ask your friend the next time you speak with him or her what they would find to be most helpful.

Giving a thoughtful, meaningful and useful gift can also be huge. Some gifts to avoid include flowers, food items, or gifts with strong perfume smells. Instead, consider giving your ailing friend books, puzzles, movies or magazines.

Or let yourself be inspired to give something even more meaningful and unique, for instance having a small, leather-bound booklet made and filling it with pictures, memories and inspirational quotes collected from close friends. Gift certificates for services, such as home cleaning, are another good gift idea.

The Importance of Remaining Engaged Over the Long Haul

Sadly, it often happens that after the tremendous initial outpouring of support, people tend to disengage a bit from a close friend after the shock of the cancer diagnosis wears off. But a cancer patient sometimes is in most need when progressing through treatment.

If you’re a part of a community group like a church, consider recruiting other parishioners to volunteer some time to spread out the workload of tasks that can make a world of difference to your sick friend. Also, don't overdo offers of help. Once a week or so is usually best.

Another positive thing you can do here is to ask your ailing friend's primary caregiver if they themselves need any help or assistance.

Tips for Maintaining the Right Mindset and Following Your Ailing Friend's Lead

Sometimes simply being there and providing an open ear for whatever it is your friend wants to talk about -- as small as this may sometimes seem -- can make a tremendous difference to your friend's morale and spirits. Take your cues from your friend. Don't avoid the subject of cancer -- for instance talking about a breast cancer recurrence test -- as if by talking about it you can make it worse. Still, some prefer talking about other things like current events to help distract themselves.

When going to these lengths to help a friend who has cancer, it is easy to get worn down. Caregivers should consider connecting -- either online or in their community -- with caregiver networks to gain valuable insights and perspectives, as well as to bolster their own spirits.

Cancer is a word no one wants to hear. Yet far too many people must confront it on a daily basis. Allow yourself time to process your feelings and thoughts and consider the people that surround you and their perspectives. Finally, do as much research as you can -- reading this article was a good step -- to learn what you can to prepare for the journey ahead.


Sign in or to post a comment on this story!

Join the community!

You must be a member of healtheo360 in order to view this group

Register with Email Address

Already a member? Click here to login

healtheo360 believes strongly in user privacy.