Managing a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment is a roller coaster for that individual and their family. As a friend, family member, or co-worker of that individual, you may be desperate to support them but fearful of how to do it. CMC Cancer Center staff and patients are offering suggestions on how to support them on this journey.
Keep the connection open
Individuals dealing with a health crisis may find themselves feeling alone, overwhelmed, and disconnected from others. Take a moment to connect with your friend via text, a phone call, or a note. They may not respond right away (or at all), but you can end your communication with “I’ll reach out again soon.”
Schedule a time to visit with them
Offer an opportunity for an in-person visit. Spending time with your friend, taking their mind off their diagnosis, or giving them a safe place to talk can be a huge gift to someone dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Our team suggests “Always touch base with them before showing up at their home and offer to bring a favorite snack or to make a stop at the grocery store on your way if they need anything.” Remember, a visit doesn’t have to be face to face talking. It can be sitting with them while they watch a favorite show or movie, going for a drive, or reading a favorite book side by side.
Offer to help them with day to day activities
Another way you can help them is by offering your assistance. CMC Cancer Center Assistant Director Barbara Elkins shares, “Ask your friend if there are any items on their to-do list you can handle for them.” This could be weeding their garden, placing an online grocery order for them, offering to take their dog for a walk, or offering to drive their child to/from practice or after school activities.
Sending gifts to your friend or loved one
What if I want to send a gift? Allyson Floyd, CMC Media Strategist and breast cancer survivor shares, “Think of things that give them back time and peace. UberEats gift cards, paying a cleaning service to clean their house, or offering to run errands are all things that brought me relief during my treatments.” Allyson notes, “cancer patients can experience food aversions during treatment, so gift cards may be better than dropping off a meal.” Allyson also suggests that if you decide to give a gift, you stress to your friend or loved one that a thank you note is absolutely not necessary.
CMC Cancer Center staff picks
Things to be mindful of
While your intentions may be good, there are some things that can cause your friend or loved one discomfort. Try to steer clear of offering advice, unless they specifically ask you for it. Be aware of how you are feeling before you visit your friend or loved one. If you are showing any signs of sickness, move your in-person visit to a phone call to protect them from infection or further complications. Allyson adds “Remember when talking with your friend/loved one, the cancer diagnosis is not WHO they now are. Discussions about other things in life are just as important now as they were before their cancer diagnosis.
It's OK to ask your friend or loved one how to support them
It’s OK to ask your friend how you can support them? While one person may welcome a revolving door or visitors and distractions, another may find it intrusive and exhausting. Ask your friend or loved one what they need from you? Instead of saying “let me know if you need anything.” Try asking something specific. Can I stop by your house this Saturday to mow your lawn or water your plants?”
A cancer diagnosis is life-changing
A cancer diagnosis is life-changing
Having support during your cancer journey is so important. The CMC Cancer Center understands that the only approach to outstanding cancer care is a whole person approach.
The CMC Cancer Center is here to help you access the necessary treatments, resources, and support to enhance your well-being and maximize your chances of a successful outcome. Navigating the stages of cancer may be a challenging journey, but with knowledge, support, and specialized care from the CMC Cancer Center, you can confidently face it with strength and resilience.
CMC Cancer Center- 843-347-8050
All content of this article is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based on any content of this article.