How to Help After a Cancer Diagnosis

4 Jun

Tips for Showing that You Care After a Friend’s Cancer Diagnosis

Have you had your annual boobie squishing or physical yet this year? Be sure to remember to take care of yourself. So many times we get busy over the summer that we postpone our own care!

Unfortunately, most of us have already been touched by cancer… breast, lung, prostate, lymphoma, leukemia, colon, ovarian, cervical, etc.

What’s a girl to do when her business associate, friend or loved one is faced with cancer? Well, here are a few tips I picked up during my 12 years of treating cancer patients:

  • First, depending on your relationship with the patient, drop by, send a card or leave a message of support.  It’s ok to send funny, uplifting cards – they don’t all have to be serious and deep.
  • It’s ok to tell her/him that you want to help but don’t know what to do or say! The patient just needs to know that you care and support her. The patient has a whole medical team to give her answers!
  • When you’re with your friend, take cues on the conversation. There will be times they want to talk about the diagnosis and journey and other days when thety will want to avoid it altogether!
  • Remember that cancer affects all of those in the patient’s immediate circle. Depending on the situation, offer to give the caregiver a break by driving the patient to an appointment or treatment, watching the kids or grocery shopping.
  • If the patient has a family, drop by with dinner. Don’t ask, just do it! Many times, patients hesitate to ask or accept help. Figure out how you can help and go for it!
  • Google and learn.  Did you know that there many types of breast cancer? or lung cancer? etc.  Learn about their specific type so that you can better understand the patient’s journey.  This knowledge is for YOU! Do NOT share all the gory details with your friend regarding their cancer, treatment, prognosis, etc. The patient has doctors for that!
  • Be persistent in your support! Call, send cards, email…show support in whatever way you can. NEVER expect a response. Depending on where the patient is in the journey, they may not be up to responding…just keep supporting! Trust me, your love and support will lift the patient up.
  • Pace yourself! Battling cancer can be a long process… A little support ALL the way through is much better than 24/7 support for the first couple weeks!
  • Pray for your friend often and be sure to be extra grateful for all the blessings in YOUR life!

by Dawn Veselka – Radiation Therapist and owner of Out of the Blue Delivered

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