There are many ways you can provide support to a friend of loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer. Here are some tips from Cancer.net to offer support for cancer patients.
Prepare yourself with knowledge and strength.
Before you visit your friend and attempt to offer support for cancer patients, you’ll need to prepare yourself first. Process your own feelings beforehand so that you can focus on your friend during your interaction.
Learn about their diagnosis. Some patients may not want to talk about their treatment details, so find them out on your own. Read medical information online or talk to your loved one’s spouse, close family member or caregiver to learn what you need to know.
How to Support Someone with Cancer
When providing cancer support for family members or close friends, it’s best to ask permission and make plans. Do not visit, give your personal advice, or ask detailed questions unless your friend has given you permission to do so first. When you make assumptions or if you act too aggressive, you may make your friend or loved one uncomfortable.
Also, make future plans to visit based around their schedule and comfort level. Be respectful of their time and privacy. Follow up that day before you visit to make sure it is still a good day.
Next, laugh with your friend, but also allow other emotions to have their time. Sometimes cancer patients need a break from the serious things and would prefer to laugh. You know your loved one best. Make the proper judgement about when it is appropriate to joke around and relax.
Also, allow for sadness if need be. Allow your friend to express their true, genuine emotions with you. They need your support at this time. Your loved one shouldn’t feel like they need to hide anything and hold back what they truly feel.
Support for cancer patients also requires you to offer help and keep your promises. Cancer patients may not always feel comfortable asking for help because they don’t want to be a burden. However, if you offer help, they may be more willing to take you up on your offer. If you do commit, follow through on your promise.
Here are some suggestions for how you can support your friend with cancer:
- Pick up their groceries or prescriptions
- Drive them to a doctor’s appointment
- Babysit their kids or schedule playdates with your own kids
- Cook them dinner
- Organize a family/ friend support group
Last, go on about your normal friendship during your loved one’s cancer journey. Try not to treat them any different because of their diagnosis, as this can make them sad or even embarrassed. Don’t mention any changes in their appearance, but instead, just mention how happy you are to see them.
What to say to a friend with cancer
Offering support for cancer patients often revolves around deep conversation and communication. However, amongst your talk about their diagnosis, also leave room for topics of conversation other than their disease. Sometimes, cancer patients get tired of talking about their diagnosis and treatment. Some would rather get back to normal life as much as possible. Depending on your relationship and their comfort level, there are optimal things to say.
Make the best judgement and help them feel comfortable. Here are some good examples of supportive things to say to your friend with cancer:
- If you want to talk, I’m here to listen.
- I care about you.
- How can I help?
- I’m thinking about your or praying for you.
Avoid making assumptions about their feelings or treatment plan. Never negate or invalidate their emotions. Here are some things not to say:
- I know how you feel.
- I know just what you should do.
- Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Thoughtful gifts for someone with cancer
If you weren’t born with the gift of gab, gifts are always a thoughtful gesture that can make a cancer patient feel loved and supported as well.
Here are some ideas for thoughtful gifts for cancer patients:
- Books or poetry to read
- Gift cards to download movies or music
- Bath sets for a relaxing night in
- Sudoku or crossword puzzles
- Spa day or restaurant gift card
- Pictures of friends or family
- Comfy clothing or a robe
- Flowers or balloons
Cancer Treatment and Support Groups at CCCN
At Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, we treat our patients with the highest quality of care and the latest in cancer treatment technology. We are passionate about helping our patients feel supported. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, visit our website to learn more from our resources for cancer patients or to find a support group near you. You can also call us at (702) 952-3350 to schedule an appointment.