Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to help a friend with cancer

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, her friends often don't know what to do or say. I can't speak for every cancer patient because every diagnosis and every personality is different. But these are some possible ways that you can help your friend if you find out she has cancer.
1. Don't say, "Call me if you need anything" because she probably won't. Either she won't want to impose, isn't comfortable asking for help, or won't remember who offered. "What do you need help with right now?" might work better.

2. Offer specific help: "I'm bringing you dinner--which day is best?"
3. If she has kids, offer to take them on a specific day, like when she has chemo. The day of and the few days after chemo can be really rough physically and emotionally. It can give your friend (and her husband) a chance to re-group.
4. Chip in with others and pay for a cleaning service for her house.
5. Send her a card with a personal message from you, not just a pre-written verse. Even if you don't know what to say, then just say that in the card. It IS the thought that counts with the card, not just the message.
6. Send her a card or call every time she has a chemo treatment. Even if she's had several treatments, it never becomes easier.
7. Cancer treatment is a long process, taking months, even years, to go through. Let her know that you're thinking about her the whole time she's going through it. Whereas the treatment may seem routine after awhile and the shock of it is over for you, for your friend it never becomes routine and is draining emotionally.
8. Offer your support but don't push it or make her talk to you about her cancer. Often she may just want to have a "normal" conversation.
9. Help her laugh! Go to a comedy club, watch a funny movie. Laughing will help her forget for awhile what she's going through.
10. When her treatment is over, don't think that everything will just go back to normal for your friend and she no longer needs support. Her life will be permanently changed and she might still need your support.