Cancer victims have concrete problems. Cancer makes a person face his mortality. Suddenly life is no longer taken for granted. Survival becomes an issue. Add to that the scary thought of the big C spreading throughout the body. There is a feeling of loss of control. Unnerving! Life becomes uncertain forever. Still, many cancer worries are about everyday issues. Am I going to be able to function independently during treatment? Where do I turn for help? How do I get to the pharmacy for prescriptions? How to I make meals when I feel so sick? What if I become very sick during the night, will I die alone? How will I pay for my treatment? Are my friends avoiding me because I have cancer? Cancer can be fatal. Some cancers can be cured. Cancer can also be a chronic condition. There are many cancers that cannot be cured but can be managed. These cancers require careful monitoring and intermittent treatment. Cancer can recur. It can recur any time after treatment. It can recur after years of being monitored. Cancer treatment side effects can last forever. When you want to help a friend with cancer, offer concrete help. The most important help you can offer is to stay connected and be a resource for your friend. Call your friend. Text them. You might:
- Drive a friend to a doctor appointment or a treatment.
- Get them out of the house for a coffee or lunch.
- Be clearly available if they need help when they are in treatment.
- Pick up a prescription for them.
- Call or leave a message to say you are thinking of them.
- Offer to help with laundry, cooking, or light housework.
- Drive them to family events and bring them home when they are tired.
- If you are far away, send them greeting cards.
Many cancer patients feel deserted by friends and family once the initial crisis is over. It is frequently expected that a sick person will be treated and then will get back to normal. Well meaning family and friends will insist that sick time is over and it is time to get back in the routine. This is not how it works with cancer.
Cancer effects are long-lasting. Extreme fatigue is common. For cancer patients, treatment and then side effects can extend over a long period of time. Physical stamina may be diminished. Finances may be devastated.
Readjusting to a new normal takes work and it takes time. The most important thing you can do to help is to stay connected. Call. Text. Send Cards. Offer specific things you are willing to do to help. Be helpful in ways that work for you. Remember there are few quick fixes for cancer.