When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, it’s natural to want to help them during this difficult time – but it can be hard to know what support will be appreciated or how to offer it.
Here are some tips on how to help from our Facebook community:
- Be there for them and tell them that you care – Phone or reach out with a message or note to let them know you are here and that you are thinking about them. You may be worried about whether you are intruding or what the right thing to say might be, but it is better to say ‘I don’t know what to say, but I do care and I want to be there for you’ than to avoid someone or say nothing at all.
- Listen – Let them express their feelings or allow them to be silent if they feel like saying nothing. Don’t compare their cancer to others or tell people what they should do to try to cure it.
- Try to treat them the way you always have – Give them the space to talk about their cancer but don’t forget to talk about the other common interests that you share too. Don’t let their cancer define them.
- Offer to keep them company during treatment – Having someone with you during treatment can be a welcome distraction. Bring a book or puzzle and keep them company. You might like to bring a small gift to lift their spirits or something practical such as warm socks to give them comfort.
- Provide practical support – Ask whether they would appreciate your help by driving them to and from appointments or to collect prescriptions.
- Help with meals – Good nutrition is important during cancer treatment and some people might experience changes in their taste and smell that can affect their appetite. Send a care package or make a supply of homemade meals to keep in the freezer. You could start a cooking roster with friends and family or do the grocery shopping.
- Assist with the house cleaning, laundry or gardening – It’s common for people with cancer to experience fatigue, so helping with household chores and other errands can be a big relief for them and their families.
- Support their family – Managing cancer treatment alongside family commitments can be very difficult. You may like to offer to help with childcare or by picking their children up from school and other activities.
- Look after their pets – Consider helping to look after the other cherished members of their family – their pets! You can help by feeding or walking their pets, cleaning up the kitty litter or by washing the dog.
- Continue to check in – Even after their active cancer treatment finishes, keep in touch by calling for a chat and let them know you’re there or reach out with a message and ask if they are okay.