Even though the battle to fight cancer is medically a solo experience, it takes a medical team to deliver the treatment. Right alongside the medical professionals, the support that the patient receives from the immediate family and friends also helps bring the core of health to the patient.
The Value of Day to Day
Don’t underestimate the need for continuity during the ups and downs associated with treatment and recovery. If it’s possible, keep an ongoing daily dialog active with your friend or loved one to help create a sense of normalcy in situations that will be unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable. A phone call, an email, a text message, even if they last just a minute or two, will provide comfort and validation at a time when it’s most needed.
Be Ready for Anything
If your schedule permits, put yourself on a list to do favors or run errands. While treatment doesn’t always incapacitate someone, there might be times when a helping hand is indispensable. Letting someone know, and repeating the offer that you’re available to help with the unexpected or unanticipated will give them a sense of relief. Many times the local medical team will provide medical along with skilled support services, but for those occasions where there’s a gap, make yourself available.
Caregivers Need Help Too
Never underestimate how hard the immediate family works to bring comfort and meet the needs of the cancer patient. One of the best things you might be able to help with is lending support services to the primary caregivers. Offer to pick up the slack when they need a break or some time away, or make it possible for them to spend a relaxing afternoon or evening indulging themselves in a favorite pastime. They’ll be able to refresh themselves, returning with renewed energy and a fresh commitment to giving their best.
Respect Their Wishes
During cancer treatment, there will be both physical and emotional ups and downs. Know when to provide support and attention that will enhance your friend’s well-being, and when to back away. Exhaustion isn’t uncommon during some phases of treatment and being an active listener will know when it’s time to give them space.
Being sensitive to the personal needs and wishes of your friend or loved one will help you remain responsive to the day-to-day needs for help and support. Volunteering to help and extending your friendship in measurable ways will strengthen the bonds of friendship throughout the healing and recovery process.
About the Author: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball. The information in this article is credited to Tri County Health Care, a provider of cancer care services.