I know that finding out someone has cancer can be just as daunting for a friend or family member as it can be for he person who has just been diagnosed. Suddenly you are on the side-lines desperate to help and not alway sure what to do, so here are my top ideas…
This is definitely the most important and evidently not as easy as you may think because I mean really listen!
If they are talking about their type of cancer, avoid jumping in with comparisons of your friends-friends-Grandmothers-cousin who knew someone with the a similar cancer, because they are trying to talk about their cancer. In doing so they are probably getting their own head around what is happening to them, and need to say it all out loud, so… just listen.
If they are talking to you about their fears, don’t cut them off and tell them to think positively. They are valid fears (however irrational) and they obviously feel the need to voice them to a loved one, so… just listen.
Whatever the circumstance, just listen!
- Take Food…
Freeze-able food is ideal. Especially when having chemotherapy your appetite isn’t great meaning having little bits to pick at is ideal, if possible, freeze food as small portions then they can have a little now and a little later. Plus, if your friend is tired, not having to cook and clean up makes eating much easier.
Little snacks are also great. My neighbour used to drop in flapjacks, which were amazing and so handy when I needed a little boost but not a whole meal.
- Think About Their Primary Careers…
In some ways I think me having cancer was harder for husband (primary career)! He had to cope with all the fallout, look after me, take over all my responsibilities in the home, do the night-feeds for our baby, work his normal job, etc etc… and without the same level of support or care that I was lucky to experience.
My dad used to do food shops when I was ill and would always buy something’s that were easy to cook that my husband could chuck in the oven, or if you are cooking for your friend, maybe do some extra for their career, but let them know it is for them! Tell them they are doing an awesome job and ask what tasks you can take on for them. Offer to watch the kids at the weekend so they can catch up on some much-needed rest.
It will make your loved one with cancer feel so much better knowing that the people looking after them, are being looked after too.
- Just Do It…
Similarly to the point made above, I found it difficult to ask people for help because I didn’t want to burden people. With the ideas listed above, I don’t think you need to wait to be asked, if you are going round – take food / an uplifting movie for them to watch. Even if you’re not going round – drop some in and leave (don’t use it as an excuse to stay). Phone their husband/wife and say, “why don’t I take the kids to the park on Saturday so you can get some rest.” They may not want to impose and ask but be thrilled when someone offers.
- Be Flexible…
If you do offer to do something, don’t be offended if they say no. Or if they say yes and then cancel. With cancer, you rarely know how you are going to feel from one day to the next – sometimes from one hour to the next so accept that arrangements are very fluid and subject to change at any moment and that is OK because this isn’t about you, it’s about your loved one getting through the best way they can find with your wonderful support.
Any other suggestions? Leave a comment and let us know! Nx
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