How To Support Someone With Cancer
When a friend or loved one has cancer you may wonder how best to help and support them.
At first you might feel unsure about what to say or do, being open and sensitive to how they are feeling is what most people need. Knowing you are there for them will really help.
Every person with cancer has a different experience so try not to assume how they might be feeling. They may feel happy one day and sad the next. Try to be mindful of their mood.
Remember that they might not want to talk or think about their cancer all of the time. Having a normal conversation about everyday things and sharing a joke can sometimes be very welcome.
Try not to take it personally if they dont want to talk about their cancer and respect their need for privacy or to have some quiet time.
This video has tips from people with cancer about talking to someone with cancer. It lasts for 54 seconds.
How to talk to someone with cancer – Top tips from patients
This must be a tough time for you.I can’t imagine how you feel.I’m sorry youre going through something like this.I don’t know what to say.I’m here for you if you want to talk.I know staying positive can be hard, how are you really?Do you want a lift to your appointment?I saw a really good film the other day you might want to watch it.I can talk abut me if you like.I can drop some dinner over tonight.
Continue To Offer Support After The Initial Diagnosis
Its not always at the beginning of the illness that patients need support. They need support along the entire continuum, says Cammarata. Offers of help often flood in at the beginning of the diagnosis and then it begins to trickle, she adds. Its important to remember that the help is not just needed when theyre first diagnosed or in the hospital.
If youre part of a church group or a similar organization, your group might want to consider taking turns helping out so that the support is spread out. Blackler also advises to offer to help more than once but not too frequently. Ask again in a week or two.
Most importantly, keep the person in mind throughout it all. Think about his or her personality and comfort level, likes and dislikes, and needs.
Its about helping without overwhelming, Blackler says. People can do really amazing things that touch the lives of patients.
Are you living with cancer, a survivor, or a caregiver? What advice do you wish had been shared with your community of friends during your experience? What was the most helpful thing that someone did for you or a loved one during cancer treatment? Share with us in the comments section below.
Top 11 Ways To Help Someone Going Through Chemo
Cancer is a personal battle. Like all personal battles receiving support from caring friends and family members makes all the difference in their journey to recovery. You are here because you want to help but you wonder what are the best ways to express and show my support during such a sensitive time ?
At Get Janes we have team members who have experienced cancer treatment first hand in addition to speaking to many cancer survivors. Below are our Top 10 Favorite Ways to Help Someone Going Through Chemo
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Looking After Normal Daily Tasks
Some helpful things you can offer to help with on a day-to-day basis, to help life feel a bit more normal for your friend and their family include:
- taking the cancer patients kids to soccer practice or any clubs/activities
- take care of the grocery shopping
- take your friend to their doctor’s appointments
- pick up their medications
- chores around the house such as ironing or washing up
- a scheduled visit to spend some quality time together might be of value
What Cancer Patients Really Want To Hear
It may be challenging to know what to say to a friend or family member with cancer. You want them to know how much you care and support them, but finding the right words can be hard. Cancer is such a life-changing diagnosis, it can be difficult to watch a loved one go through a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
According to the American Cancer Society, studies show that cancer patients with strong emotional support tend to adjust better to the many changes the disease brings to their lives. They often have a more positive outlook and describe a better quality of life. Showing your support can make a big difference in the life of someone with cancer.
Here are a few things cancer patients really want to hear from their friends and family to know they have your support.
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Take Time To Prepare Yourself
Here are some things to consider before talking to a friend who has cancer:
Process your own feelings beforehand. Learning that a friend has cancer can be difficult news to hear. Take time to acknowledge and cope with your own emotions about the diagnosis before you see him or her. This way, you can keep the focus on your friend.
Learn about the diagnosis. Your friend may not want to talk about the details for many reasons. It can be physically and emotionally tiring to repeat the same information to different people. If possible, the persons spouse or a mutual friend may be able to give you the basics. Write it down and repeat it back to them to be sure you have the correct information. If there is information that is unknown or not shared, do not push for more.
Think about it from your friends perspective. Remember a time when you were scared or felt sick. Think about what it felt like. What did you want to talk about? How did you want to be treated? You may also want to prepare yourself for changes in your friends appearance. Fatigue, weight loss, and hair loss are common side effects of cancer and many treatments. Start your visit by saying Its good to see you instead of commenting on any physical changes.
Well Wishes For Friends Fighting Cancer
1. This must be a really tough time for you, but I wanted to let you know that Im so impressed by your courage and endurance.
2. You are so determined to beat this cancer, and Im so proud of you. You are an inspiration to everyone around you!
3. The road ahead of you looks scary, but I wanted to let you know that we are here to support you every step of the way.
4. You have faced every doctors appointment with grace and strength, and I am in awe of how strong you are!
5. I want to be here for you in any way that I can. Is it okay with you if I schedule a cleaning service to come in next week?
6. I have no doubt that you will tackle cancer the same way you have every other obstacle in your life: with grit and determination and your fierce Ive-got-this attitude!
7. When the day comes that you are cancer-free, I will be there to celebrate right alongside you. Keep up that positive attitude because youve got this.
8. Dont think about it like you are dying from cancer you are living with cancer. And one day, youll be living without it!
9. Cancer picked the wrong diva to mess with! I am so sorry you are going through this, but I know you will fight it with all that you have.
10. When Im having a bad day, I think of you and your positive attitude. You are such an inspiration, and I am so blessed to have you in my life.
12. If you are feeling up for it on Saturday, Id love to take you for something to eat. Tell me where you want to go, and I will be there to pick you up!
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Help Them Find Support
No matter how much someone without cancer can empathize, talking to someone facing the same challenges can be invaluable for someone facing cancer. Ask your cancer center for information on in-person support groups Many online support groups are available as well, and carry the advantage of being able to connect to others with cancer and cancer caregivers 24 hours a day. If your loved one is not interested in a support group, check into the matching services provided by organizations such as LUNGevity, in which people with cancer are matched up with others facing the same cancer.
What You Can Do: Conversation
Many people worry that they dont know what to say to someone with cancer. Try to remember that the most important thing is not what you say its that youre there and willing to listen. Try to hear and understand how your friend feels. Let them know that youre open to talking whenever they feel like it. Or, if the person doesnt feel like talking, let them know thats OK, too.
Ask your friend questions. Ask for their advice and opinions.
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Care For The Caregiver
The primary caregiver for someone diagnosed with cancer can be forgotten. The responsibilities and duties of a caregiver are exhausting and overwhelming.
You can be a gentle reminder that the caregiver needs support too. Suggest self-care ideas such as time off, good nutrition, exercise, and relaxation techniques. Help make these possible by providing the same level of support that you do to the person receiving chemo.
The Emotions They Might Feel
You might find that their mood changes from one moment to the next. This is a normal response to a diagnosis of cancer. There are a whole range of emotions that they might experience including:
Having an understanding of these emotions can help you to support them.
We have a section all about cancer and emotions, which you may want to look at.
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Provide Appropriate Food On Days After Chemo
Dietary restrictions on someone with cancer are usually imposed due to metallic tastes, loss of appetite and dehydration caused by treatment. So it is important to recognize that what your friend with cancer might have previously loved to eat before their diagnosis, may not be suitable after therapy sessions.
In addition, straight after chemo they may not feel up to cooking for themselves and may need your help. Knowing what to cook for a chemo patient is not easy, so it’s best to ask what they may feel like eating after therapy.
Some people pre-cook meals and leave them in their friends’ house to eat when they feel up to it. Others visit after chemo to make sure the people eat. How you and your friend deal with the logistics is up to you, but making sure the cancer patient eats at some point is a good way of supporting them.
Take Care Of A Special Family Member
It’s important not to forget that the person’s spouse, children, parents, and other friends and family may be going through tough times also. They may need some emotional support after your friend’s cancer diagnosis or practical help whilst they are dealing with the cancer patient.
If you are a friend or a distant relative, visit and check in on the family. Ask their partner, children, or parents how they are, and offer your help if they need it. Long hospital appointments and stress can be exhausting for a close relative. Offer to cook some meals for the family or help with child care.
Simply asking how a partner, parent, or child is doing can show that you are supporting the whole family and an offer to help with the family might take a bit of weight off the cancer patient’s mind.
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Decorate Their Hospital Room During Holidays
Some chemo patients receive in patient care and stay in the hospital depending on the severity of their condition. Encourage holiday spirit with brightly colored holiday decorations to bring light and joy to their everyday space. They may be missing out on their favorite holiday traditions due to treatment and this is sure to brighten their mood.
Put Your Own Feelings And Fears Aside
- Donât be afraid to talk with your friend. It is better to say, âI donât know what to sayâ than to stop calling or visiting because it makes you feel bad.
- If youâre feeling tearful, let them know, but be brief. You may have to stay away until you can be there for your friend, without your friend having to comfort you.
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Words Of Encouragement For Cancer Patients Family
Families with cancer patients need a lot of encouragement. Some of them are already exhausted from the stress, pain, etc of having and taking care of a person with cancer.
If you have any of such families around or even within your extended family, here are words of encouragement for cancer patients family will brighten their day and leave much so much strength.
1. I know it has been difficult and challenging for the family of late but I believe we will all come out of this stronger and better.
2. If you dont mind, I will be available to take him to his next chemo treatment so that you can have time to rest and stay with the kids.
3. She will not just survive cancer but will go on to live a wonderful life after.
4. It is great to know it is not a terminal case. I pray for more strength for the whole family to live through all of these.
5. I know its been hard for the family, considering the stress of being in and out of the hospital lately. I will be available this weekend to help with the kids.
Give Them Their Very Own Cozy Hospital Gown
The best way to help a loved family member or friend through chemo is making sure they are always comfortable and properly covered at every doctor’s visit. Chemotherapy patients will visit the doctors office regularly. Having their own hospital gown will help them feel confidence and strength when they need it the most. Not to mention every time they put it on they will remember the constant support from you during their battle.
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Help With Moving And Turning
If the person you are caring for needs help moving or turning, the district nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist can show you how to do this safely. They may be able to arrange help from care workers, or provide equipment to help you. This could include a hoist or sling.
When a person is not able to move around much, they have a higher risk of getting pressure sores. To avoid this, they need to change how they are sitting or lying regularly. If they cannot do this on their own, a district nurse can show you how to move them. They can also provide a pressure-relieving mattress, and ankle or elbow pads to reduce the risk of pressure sores. Gently massaging the persons back, arms or legs with moisturising cream keeps their skin soft.
Your local Carers Trust carers centre may offer training in first aid and moving and handling. You could also speak to the GP or district nurse.
Managing Symptoms And Side Effects
The person you are caring for may have different symptoms or treatment side effects. Their cancer doctor, specialist nurse or palliative care team can prescribe drugs or give advice on managing these. Always tell them if side effects or symptoms do not improve.
If the person you are caring for is having treatment, such as chemotherapy or other drugs, it is very important to follow the advice that the healthcare team gave you. For example, you may have been told to contact the hospital directly on a 24-hour number if they have a temperature or feel unwell.
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Cards Or Little Gifts
This is perfect for anyone who is doesnt live close by. Show that you are thinking of them by sending a funny card. Chemotherapy is so mundane, its tough and at times it can feel unbearable. Put a smile on their face by sharing your funny stories and send a card to show that you are thinking of them. You might also want to send a little gift. Be careful if you are buying a gift as there will be some things you need to avoid depending on what type of chemo they are on. A quick google should help. For instance, hand creams and body moisturisers are lovely but chemo can make a patients skin highly sensitive. Burts Bee products are a good option. Find out what the side effects of their chemo are and see if you can find a little gift that might help to relieve them. I received some really thoughtful gifts which helped me manage my symptoms. If you are unsure of what to buy, you can never go wrong with novels, puzzle books and magazines as these will help pass the time in the chemo chair. You can also never go wrong with flowers or a plant.
Foods To Eat During Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment that uses one or more drugs to combat cancer cells in your body.
Its symptoms, which may include dry mouth, taste changes, nausea, and fatigue, can make eating seem like a chore.
However, its important to eat a healthy, balanced diet during cancer treatment to keep your body functioning optimally. Foods that are mild in flavor, easy on your stomach, and nutrient-dense are some of the best options (
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