How To Support People with Cancer
Usually, I’ll write a post on some way to better your personal development, your health, your finances…
But since this is my personal blog. I want to share a personal story dear to my heart.
My husband of 16 years passed away on November 3, 2020, of a bowel obstruction caused by gastric cancer.
This is my first time really talking about it here. I don’t think I was ready to share. To even admit that I am a Widow at 42 years old with 2 teenagers.
He was my friend, not just my lover. And I miss his physical presence in my life. If we weren’t married. I would still miss him the same.
We got through a lot of challenges in life together. It made the tough times comforting to get through because we knew we had each other. No doubt!
Then cancer came and changed everything for us. It was a different challenge. We tried our best to overcome. It feels like a failure at times. But I know it’s not.
He is free of cancer, and I am left with wisdom and knowledge on how to best support people dealing with cancer.
So today I want to help someone be a friend to someone with cancer. Some ideas that can help them and you have meaningful time with one another.
Sometimes you think you already know what a person with cancer may want or need. Can be a mistake.
It is always best to ask. But if you want to help. First, learn how to support people with cancer.
There are some things that all people fighting any kind of terminal illness need, desire, and want.
Let this blog post serve as a guide on how to support the people you know and don’t know with cancer.
How to Be a Friend to Someone with Cancer
For the first time ever. And I do mean ever! We had felt genuine love from people.
Most complete strangers and most from people we had begun having relationships with. Before and during his diagnoses. Up until his death.
Thinking about this moment in our lives. I can’t help but remember the story of the Good Samaritan.
Taught by one of the wisest men and great rabbis to walk this earth.
I want to share it! I like the Bible as a reference because of its story of a King and His Kingdom. ‘
It’s one of the oldest books to exist in human history.
Although with question its origin and validity today. I honor wisdom, knowledge, history, and revelations. That exists in its pages.
Here is the story.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question. “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’
And ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Jesus replied with a story. “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, attacked by bandits.
They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance, a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.
A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.
Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.
Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Luke 10:25-37 NLT
Friendship and Cancer
Many studies have found that people with cancer have strong emotional support.
Tend to better adjust to the changes cancer brings to their lives. They have a more positive outlook, and often report better quality of life.
Research has shown that they need support from friends. Or people who can be a true friends in the most trying time of their lives.
You can make a big difference in the life of someone with cancer.
Friends and family of people with cancer often want to help, but don’t know what to do.
As you spend time with the person in the battle with cancer. Learn more about how cancer is affecting their everyday life.
Keep your eyes open for other things you can offer.
See how your friend/family member responds to different activities. Know that the situation may change as treatment goes on.
Tailoring your help to what they need and enjoy the most is the best way to be a friend and support.
To one battling cancer and their families too!
Here I will give you some ideas about where you can be most effective.
How To Support People with Cancer & Their Families
What You Can Do:
Notes and Phone Calls
Make sure your friend/family knows that they’re important to you. Show that you still care for your friend despite the changes in what they can do or how they look.
- Send brief, frequent notes or texts, or make short, regular calls. Include photos, silly cards, kids’ drawings, and cartoons.
- Ask questions.
- Return their messages right away.
- Check-in with the person who helps with their daily care (caregiver) to see what else they might need.
Cancer can be very isolating. Try to spend time with your friend/family. You may be a welcome distraction.
Help them feel like they did before cancer became the major focus of their life.
- Always call before you visit. Be understanding if your friend/family can’t see you at the time.
- Don’t be afraid to touch, hug, or shake hands with your friend/family. Make sure you wash them before you do.
- Schedule a visit. That allows you to give physical and emotional support to the caregiver too. You can arrange to stay with the person while the caregiver gets out of the house for a couple of hours.
- Make short, regular visits rather than long, infrequent ones. Understand that your friend might not want to talk, but they may not like being alone either.
- Offer to bring a snack or treat to share so your visit doesn’t impose on the caregiver.
- Share music your friend enjoys, watch their favorite TV show, or watch a movie with them.
Many people worry that they don’t know what to say to someone with cancer.
Try to remember that the most important thing is what you say. It’s that you’re there and willing to listen.
Try to hear and understand how your friend or family member feels.
- Ask the person if they’re having any discomfort. Suggest new ways to be more comfortable, such as using more pillows or moving furniture.
- Give honest compliments, such as “You look rested today.”
- Support your person’s feelings. Allow then to be negative, withdrawn, or silent. Resist the urge to change the subject.
- Be sure to include your friend or family member when talking to others in the room.
- Ask them questions. Ask for their advice and opinions.
- Assume that your friend or family member can hear you even if they seem to be asleep or dazed.
- Don’t offer any medical advice.
- And offer to pray for them. But don’t pray long! Make it to the point and comforting.
Offer to Run Errands or Complete Projects for them.
Many people want to help their friends and family facing a difficult time.
Keep in mind that wanting to help and offering to be there for your friend or family is what matters most.
- Run an errand for the caregiver. It is as helpful as an errand for the person with cancer. Look for ways to help on a regular basis.
- I don’t suggest you make food for the person with cancer or their family. Unless you ask first! I do not suggest you cook the food yourself. Unless you can really cook. Instead, send them gift cards to their preferred restaurants and eatery places.
- Get their grocery list and Buy them Groceries.
- Go to the post office if they need to!
- Pick up prescriptions
- Drive family and friends to and from the airport or hotel who come to visit the person whom you both love.
Look for small, practical things your friend or family may need or just enjoy.
Think about what their average day is like and what might make it a little better.
It’s always good to laugh and smile, too, so look for fun things for your friend or family.
Make sure gifts are useful. Gifts given frequently are usually better than one-time gifts.
Give a gift to the caregiver. It is as welcome as a gift to your friend or family member.
- Soft or silly socks
- Fun and stylish hats or scarves
- White, soft washcloths, towels, or bedding
- Silk or satin pillowcases
- Self-care items, such as a special pillow or a heating pad
- a massage device
- Pictures of friends
- Good movies. Especially Funny ones
- Good music. Lots of soothing instruments
- A journal or notebook
- Gift cards to major stores
- The number one way to support a person with cancer and their families is money.
The reason monetary gifts are the best is that the person can divide the funds. Where they will be most useful.
The financial burden is lifted from the person and their families. Who is fighting cancer is the most effective. If you really want to make a difference, make.
Support them financially. There are so many ways to do so. You can use cash, check, any of the cash receiving apps, bitcoin, cryptocurrency.
Everyone, no matter how strong, can benefit from having a friend. Even if that friend is a stranger.
Your friend or family member with cancer needs you and your support.
More now than ever. If you want to make your time together through the storm useful.
Be present! Present support to someone with cancer.
It can be hard to know what to say or do when someone you care about has cancer. Here I share some tips to help you give your friend the support and encouragement they need.
For cancer information, day-to-day help, and emotional support, visit www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.
I don’t recommend you go at it alone if you are battling cancer. You need someone.
If you know someone dealing with cancer don’t let them, go at it alone. Be a Good Samaritan!