Help Friends Fighting Cancer
Cancer, the very word creates fear in even the strongest of us. The chances are someone you know is fighting their way through this disease right now. Avoid being that friend who does not visit or call when a friend or family member is dealing with a serious illness. Step up to be the one your friend or loved one who they can count on to help.
Consider these ways to help a loved one fight one of the toughest battles of their life:
“I’m here to help you.”
And mean it. Be definite and specific. A person with any life-threatening illness needs people who will push forward and help them get the daily things done. Cancer patients must have rest so they can recuperate from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. These treatments are taxing both mentally and physically. Be there to support them through this really frightening time.
Rather than ask
What you can do, say what you will do! Be specific. “I can pick up your kids from school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while you’re getting chemotherapy. They can stay at my house and play with my kids until you get home. Will that work for you?”
Cook a meal for your friend and their family every week. Make lasagna and buy a bag of salad and drop it off. Brew a big pot of soup and take it over. Make a Crockpot full of pulled pork, buy coleslaw at your local deli, and drop them off with fresh buns for quick sandwiches.
Providing nourishment and pre-made meals for your cancer-fighting friend can be the most loving thing to do for them and their family members.
Take them to chemotherapy. One of the scariest parts of dealing with cancer is undergoing chemotherapy. It can be a 3- or 4-hour session at the cancer treatment center followed by them getting a contraption strapped on that has an I.V. connected to it that continues to deliver more medication over the next few days. It’s tiring, scary, and emotionally exhausting.
Transporting to and from these sessions can be so helpful for family members that are overloaded with the stress of dealing with the disease on a day-to-day basis. Plus, family members often must continue to work to bring money into the household and can’t be available every day to transport.
Take them to Radiation therapy.
This course of treatment usually is daily for a month. Mentally taxing, physically exhausting – support before and after each session makes patients feel they are not ‘having to do this alone!’
Ask when to Call
Don’t just drop in. Keep in mind that your loved one who has cancer may feel very tired and will be trying to nap and rejuvenate as much as possible. Make times for when you can call so it won’t disturb them. You could also ask them to text or call you when they feel like talking.
Be sensitive and understanding
If you have ever needed to be aware of someone’s feelings, it’s when a friend is coping with cancer. Your friend might be feeling cranky and annoyed. Or they might be crying and depressed.
Just listening and acknowledging their reactions, helps to know these are normal and they are entitled to their feelings. You can’t ‘fix it’ you just need to listen – it’s all that is necessary to lend support.
Focus on Them
Deal appropriately with your own feelings first. You might be feeling pretty devastated about the news that your loved one has cancer. Allow yourself to cry about it with your spouse or another friend before you talk with your sick friend.
Lean on your journal to help you process your feelings and work to accept what’s happening regarding your loved one’s health. Giving yourself a day or two to adjust to the news before speaking to the friend with cancer (if possible) will help you focus more on how they’re feeling and what they’re going through.
Mental health and a positive mindset have proven to be one of the biggest factors in surviving cancer. Make sure you stay positive. A great many people survive cancer these days. Tell them you are proud of how they are handling the whole thing. Acknowledge how they continue to do whatever is necessary to cope with their illness. The more positive energy you can bring to them, the better they will manage their recovery.
Finally, do what you can to be consistent, and strong support to anyone fighting cancer. You will be so glad you did.