Have a Friend or Family Member With Cancer? Here's How You Can Help! by Keri De Deo
Does someone you know have cancer? Do you want to help, but you just don’t know how? Here's a list of helpful tips:
- Talk about it. Cancer is a scary diagnosis, but it shouldn’t be swept under the rug. People going through cancer treatments need to talk about their hopes and fears. It helps them process it. If you’re a survivor, talk about it. If you’re a caregiver, listen. People who listened to me and let me cry on their shoulders will forever be my heroes.
- Send a plant (but not flowers). Many people undergoing cancer treatments are very sensitive to smells, but seeing a living thing is wonderful. Flowers, because of their aroma, may not be a good idea, but a basic green plant can be excellent. My co-workers sent me a large, green plant, and it reminded me that growth takes nurturing.
- Bring meals, but ask first. Cancer treatments can be exhausting, and people try to have a normal life, but they need a break. Set up a meal schedule and take food during chemo days. Ask about diet preferences and provide food that’s not too spicy or aromatic. My favorite go-to meal was rice and beans (without too much spice) wrapped in a flour tortilla.
- Drive them to treatments. Going to treatments can be the hardest part of surviving cancer. Having someone there helps keep anxiety and panic to a minimum.
- Let them relax. Getting treatments can take hours, and at first, you might think it’s a good time to do work or be otherwise productive. But getting cancer treatments can make a person sick. A nurse told me that treatment time was my time to relax. I read my favorite book or just talked to my husband. It turned into a relaxing time despite the reasons for the visits.
Cancer is a scary diagnosis, and a scary time in someone’s life, but it doesn’t have to all be negative or downtrodden. It can be a time to relax and get to know someone a little better. Just don’t stay away. If you’re worried about spreading germs to your sick friend, call them. They’ll love hearing from you and knowing that you care.
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