Once you find out a friend has been diagnosed with cancer, two thoughts you might have are “what should I say?” and “what can I do?”. These thoughts may transpire into feelings of anxiety and possibly even avoidance of the person in question. Simply not knowing what to do can cause damage to your relationship. To keep yourself from falling into the trap of these actions and consequences, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can show someone near and dear to your heart how much you care. Thankfully, if you follow our tips, then it's not hard to figure out what to do for someone with cancer.
What to Do for Someone with Cancer
1. Process Your Feelings
Taking a little time to process your own feelings is a good place to start. How do you feel? It’s OK to feel sad, worried, upset, or even introspective. Pinpointing exactly where you stand emotionally and working through these feelings are the perfect first steps to shifting your focus from within to fully centering all attention on your friend.
2. Do Your Research
Various cancers and treatments can affect everyone differently. Your friend will most likely feel inundated initially with questions about the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatments. They will get tired of repeating the same information over and over again. To save your friend from having to go through the same emotionally and physically draining questions, try researching this information yourself. This reassures your friend you genuinely do care about them.
3. Keep Contact Open
Keeping up with your friend on a regular basis is one of the best ways to show you care. Above all, shooting them a text, sending funny emails and memes, or calling just to see how they are feeling can do wonders to reassure your friend and keep their spirits up.
4. Give Space When Needed
Some days may be harder for your friend than others. Of course, your natural reaction will probably be to reach out and offer support. While this is the ideal way to proceed, don’t take it to heart if your friend does not respond the way you think they will. Read between the lines when you talk and listen for specific wording to let you know whether your friend wants company or needs some alone time. In the latter’s circumstances, do not push; just give them time.
5. Treat Them No Differently
One of the worst things you can do when around a friend with cancer is behave as though they are sick. Your friend probably has cancer on the mind more often than not and cherishes the moments they can just….be.
6. Offer to Help
Sit down with your friend and take a look at what’s on their plate. Let them know when you are available to help with doctor appointments or cooking meals, then try to help plan out who may be available to help with anything else. While your friend will most likely want to keep things as normal as possible, knowing you are there can make a world of difference if the possibility of a rougher-than-usual day rears its head.
7. Make Plans
Plans can refer to short or long-term. Never make your friend feel as though you are hesitant about making long-term plans due to their health concerns. Long-term plans also give you both something to look forward to. As far as the short-term, consider planning a regular movie/take-out night, or a weekly game night. This is the perfect way to take your friend’s mind off anything cancer related.
8. Just Listen
There may come a time where your friend wants to talk about their worries or frustrations. It’s best to give them the time they need to air their fears or even show some emotion. Sometimes just the act of venting can leave a person feeling a million times better.
Let’s Get Specific
If you’re having trouble determining the best way to help your friend, we’ve included some more specified tasks below they may appreciate assistance with. Consider creating a schedule with other friends or family members to ensure these tasks are covered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
- Let Them Know You Can Help with Kids and Pets - Offer to pick up the kids from school or possibly even babysit on certain days. For pets, ask if they have a specified walking schedule or if you can assist with taking them to any veterinary appointments.
- Offer to Purchase Groceries or Run Other Errands - Cancer treatments can leave a person feeling exhausted and run down. So, naturally, asking if they could use help picking up groceries or prescriptions is a fabulous way to help out!
- Do Something Outdoorsy - Plan a couple days a week to take a walk or do something in the great outdoors. Your friend’s motivation may be low due feeling run-down from treatment or medications, so try to be a motivating factor in their life. for your friend by encouraging them to spend some time out of the house.
- Give gifts - Who doesn't like receiving presents? Get your loved one something special to show that you care. Try crafting a gift, bringing them a dish of their favorite food, or purchasing them some basic headcovers. For example, a plate of double chocolate brownies and a comfy sleep cap are a great place to start. Click here to check out more ideas.
A friend’s cancer diagnosis may leave you feeling unsure what to do or how you can help, and this is completely OK. Work on processing your own feelings, then turn the focus to your friend to show them you will be there throughout whatever lies ahead. Did you do something special for a friend recently diagnosed with cancer or vice versa? Tell us in the comments section below!