Ways to support a friend or family member with cancer

Ways to support a friend or family member with cancer

When a friend or loved one is battling cancer, it's easy to feel helpless. You may think there's nothing you can do to make their difficult situation any better, but that's not the case. There are many simple ways you can lend a helping hand, an open ear or a bright smile to a friend or family member when they need it most.

The best thing you can do for someone with cancer is to be there for him or her both physically and emotionally. Don't be afraid of physical contact with a cancer patient—a simple touch or a warm hug can do wonders. Do your best to keep your relationship much as it was before their diagnosis, and continue to include the person in social plans and other events. Don't be afraid to discuss the disease with your friend or family member. Talking through the fears and difficulties related to the cancer and its treatment can be cathartic.

Keep in mind that you don't always have to talk about cancer with your loved one. While talking about the disease and treatment can be helpful, cancer shouldn't be the central topic of all your conversations. It’s OK to ask questions, but avoid offering unwanted advice or talking in a patronizing tone.

People with cancer can feel isolated, so be sure to spend as much time as possible with the person—as long as it's on their terms. Ask to schedule visits that are convenient for them, and make your visits frequent and regular. Bring along a nice snack or other treat. Perhaps share some new music or play a game with your loved one.

Sometimes, it takes a village. Gather a group of friends and organize regular one-on-one and group visits. Divvy up errands and other household tasks that will and let your loved one get the rest they need. Always be willing to help around the house, whether it’s a once-a-week dusting and mopping session or taking care of the lawn or pool.

You can also run everyday errands like grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions. Make regular meals for your friend and them eat together. You can also help your friend by helping him or her find resources and support groups. Finally, if the person with cancer is undergoing outpatient treatment or has a visit scheduled with a doctor, offer to go along for support and companionship.

Small surprises and little gifts are also a great way to show a person with cancer that you’re thinking about them. It doesn't have to be anything big—in fact, sometimes small, silly gifts are the best ones. Consider something comforting and fun like warm slippers, cute pajamas, fresh flowers, framed photos of friends and family, books, iTunes gift cards or DVDs.

Perhaps the single best way you can support a friend or family member with cancer is to simply be the loving person you've always been to him or her. While the healing process might be long, stressful and painful both emotionally and physically, it can take quite a toll on patients as well as on friends and family. Try to keep things in perspective—there will be both good and bad days—and always remember that your friendship and support are key in helping someone in his or her battle with cancer.

Posted: 3/19/2015 by Goshen Health
Filed under: Cancer, Friendship, Group, Support

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