It is a numbing reality to hear the words that either a friend or family member has been diagnosed. It's shocking when they themselves first hear the news so much so a period of time passes before they can utter the words to anyone in their inner circle. First and foremost never say, "Why didn't you tell me sooner" as the hardest part of being diagnosed with cancer, for most, is telling those they love. It takes time to process the news of cancer. Let's explore the ways others have handled such devastating news and the best things to do for those suffering cancer, treatments, surgery and the many other things that must be done when battling cancer.
How to React to and Help a Loved One with Cancer
Dealing with cancer? Learn how to react, treat and care for a loved one when you learn they have cancer, during treatment and when facing possible terminal diagnosis.
Cancer Patients Want Friends and Family to Visit
When Terminal Patients Don't Want a Funeral A Living Wake
I recently lost my cousin. She was the youngest of my closest group of cousins and hands down one of my favorite. Betty found out in May that she had lung cancer after a visit to the doctor due to severe back pain.
After visiting the oncologist she learned it had spread to her liver, spine, and lymph system. The doctor told her she had 3 to 6 months. Although she never accepted the fact that cancer would take her life it did after 9 months, it had spread to her brain.
During those months she did everything possible to survive. She did not want to die, leave her kids or family. She had every chemo and radiation combination the doctor would allow, even though he advised her there was little if any hope.
She told me and all others she did not want a funeral, in fact she refused to have a funeral but instead she wanted anyone who would attend her funeral to come visit her while still alive. I did as much a possible, we lived 6 hours apart.
During our visits she talked to me about those who had not come to see her and hoped they would because she wanted to say goodbye, reflect on good times and help them to accept and learn about death.
During the last 9 months of her life it was the little things that mattered to Betty. She raved about the coconut cream pie her Mom baked for her and only her, she ate the whole pie over several days. We never got a whole of anything as kids. The pie was a big deal and many other little gestures like that really made her smile and feel loved. At Christmas I baked cut out sugar cookies frosting and decorating them like we did as kids, she loved them.
The Cancer Helper
Many find it easier to focus on the course of treatment ahead without the emotional response from loved ones. Maintaining silence is an attempt to stay positive and focus on getting well.
The act of saying the words out loud may break the emotional dam allowing for sadness and fear to set in, something no one gearing up to battle cancer wants.
If someone you love has kept a cancer diagnosis from you don't take it personally.
First and foremost move on to the person closest to them determining your best course of action. The spouse, partner, parent or sibling of the one suffering cancer, and all it entails, will know best what you can do to help.
Maintain a connection with this contact person to stay informed as to how to help and stick to creating pleasant moments with the patient.
Don't Avoid A Friend with Cancer
The last thing anyone should do is avoid someone or treat anyone with cancer different.
Those with cancer may find their personal hiding place and while they need their privacy and space there is a place and role for you in this fight as well.
Be a Silent Partner
Be humble waiting quietly to do anything needed when the time comes and it will.
The best things we can do for loved ones, friends and family with living with cancer is to act immediately don’t avoid them or treat them differently than you typically would. Step in and take action, read this entirely for many ways to do that without making the friend feel bad.
When Cancer Patients Withdraw
People with Cancer Tend to Fall Below the Social Radar.
One of the worst feelings a cancer patient may experience is being cut off from life as they once knew it with the fear of losing themselves and their life before they've even begun to fight.
It may seem friends and loved ones facing cancer are in denial or withdrawn and yet honestly it's often the best most healthy way to cope. They are merely exhausted both mentally and physically unable to maintain their normal routine or personality.
Most people need to focus on anything other than the cancer. While in the background they are dealing with it, the treatments and doctor’s appointments they need a distraction, a sense of normalcy.
Talking About Cancer
The topic of conversation with cancer patients does not need to be about cancer.
There is no need to say anything about the cancer. Your friend will bring it up if and when they want until then you can simply say “I'm here if you want to talk about it otherwise I'll continue to simply be your friend, be here and enjoy life as you can and want”.
Maintain Normalicy When Facing Cancer
The shock of cancer easily alters the life of all those involved.
A sense of the everyday normal helps to ground the person just diagnosed and those who love them. The reminders of what they love about life helps them concentrate on maintaining the life and people they love doing everything possible to beat it.
How to Help Someone With Cancer
If there is someone in your life struggling with cancer renew the relationship.
There are people in our lives we care a great deal about and yet life has a way of putting gaps of time in the path of the relationship.
If you learn such a person has cancer you no doubt want to do something to reach out and help.
It's hard to know what to do and for this reason many step back and remain out of the picture.
Anyone facing cancer needs a network of quiet supporters who go about life as usual. The best thing for you to do is to renew and restore the relationship.
Create a Contact List
Establish a contact person close to the friend or loved one with cancer.
Establish the best person to contact other than the patient, if they don't seem receptive, not giving up until you gain contact and a line of communication. People need help during chemo and or radiation treatments. They won't ask but need it.
Call or drop by to let them know you're here for them. Give them your phone numbers, having already written your name, phone numbers, address and email for them to contact you. Add a list of things your available to help with.
The example to the right is the perfect gift for adding all contact information and a help list
A Cancer Contact Book
Write the person you want to reach out to a note.
Create a contact book adding your contact information and a list of things you're available to help them with. It's important to make the list as the cancer patient will be distracted with treatments working hard to get to them and through them. Those struggling with any kind of cancer don't know what to ask for.
Those involved are so overwhelmed with the cancer and how it has changed their normal routine they fight to maintain their own schedule and well-being. Giving a contact book is a great way to help. They can refer to this book and contact you for things on your list and also add others information to it when they visit by simply offering it to them when they ask what they can do. They will follow your lead.
This shouldn't be an address book or other in alphabetical order yet a simple journal with you filling in the first page. This gives others a first hand example right at their fingertips. They will then follow your lead adding their contact information and help list to the following page creating a powerful resource of help when needed.
Make Others Aware of Cancer
Let anyone and everyone you know cares about this person that they have received a cancer diagnosis.
Call anyone and everyone you know who also cares for this person telling them what's going on.
Let them know about the contact book and encourage them to visit offering to add their information to the contact book.
How to Drop by or Call to Help
Make sure the significant other, children or spouse living with the person dealing with their diagnosis know you have created this book, what it looks like and where it is, explaining to them the plan of action behind the book.
Best case scenario, show this person or persons the book.
Create a Cancer Help Network
The most important thing you can do is to make yourself available anytime you are needed
Establishing the Best Contact Person
Show this person the book as they may be the best way to fill the book without overwhelming the person about to experience weeks, months or possibly years of treatment.
Establish the significant caregiver as the contact person getting their contact information to share with those who want to help to insure they get their information added to the list.
Also let those you call know to contact the go to person if they can't reach the friend with cancer.
Cancer Help Ideas
A List of Helpful things Useful to Those Fighting Cancer
Helpful Things You Can Do to Help - This is a list of useful things you can volunteer to do adding the list to your contact page including times and day’s best for you also indicating if you want to be on the round the clock contact list as well.
Don't Wait! Get involved the minute you hear of the friend with cancer.
10 Things Friends Can do to Help
There are so many things you can do to help a friend and their family when cancer becomes a part of their daily routine.
The Cancer Help List
- Run errands, shopping, or carpool kids.
- Late night food run for cravings be it a cheeseburger and fries or a watermelon.
- Cook bringing food, drinks and groceries.
- Yard work and or take out the trash.
- Bring the mail up to the house daily.
- Maintain the car, fuel up, check fluids, air pressure in tires etc.
- Come over to set with friend/cancer patient, read, bring movies or books on tape etc.
- Call to chat with the friend talking to them as you would before the diagnosis.
- Take the kids out for dinner; bring them to your house for play dates etc.
- Water plants, dust, vacuum, wash dishes, do laundry, make beds etc.