When a friend or a family member is diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like their world is caving in and that all the doors to any sort of cure are closing. To call these times difficult would be an understatement.
You may wonder how to help your friend, how to support him or her through the treatments and emotional stresses. Remember that there are no hard and fast rules to being supportive. Just as each individual goes through the cancer experience differently, you will have to rely on the unique dynamics of your friendship to show how much or how little support you need to give.
Whatever the circumstances, your encouragement and support, in and of itself, will prove to be a form of complementary treatment that could help your friend deal with the rigors of his or her conventional medical treatments. Your presence during challenging times could help a friend more quickly adjust to the difficulties that cancer can pose and will help them gain a more positive outlook for the future.
What Can You Do
Take the time to get a handle on your own emotions. You can’t provide healthy, positive support for your friend if your own emotions can’t keep you focused on what’s important – your friend’s welfare. Learn to cope with yourself first – find the calmness, strength, and acceptance to be one of the people your friend will lean on for support.
Each person goes through cancer in their own way but there are a few great ways to show your support.
Make sure your friend knows he or she is important to you. Little gestures like sending a short note of encouragement, a card, a text, call, or video message can mean a lot, even when an actual personal visit isn’t immediately feasible.
Check with their caregiver to get updates on whether, or when, they can receive visitors and if there is anything, they might need that you can bring.
If visits are an option, keep your visits as light and short as necessary. Take your cues from your friend on which direction your visit will take. He or she may see it as a nice distraction and would welcome a chat about anything but the cancer. Or, perhaps your presence would allow your friend to vent their feelings and frustrations. Be open to being a sounding board and a good listener.
Offering to help with your friend’s daily chores could be a godsend to both to them and their caregiver. Be as specific as possible in your offer and be open to initial resistance, especially if your friend is the independent sort who has a hard time accepting offers of help.
Some little chores to offer could be shopping for groceries or medical prescriptions, cooking lunch or dinner, babysitting children or arranging their play dates, helping with house-cleaning or laundry, tending to their plants or the garden, driving your friend to a doctor’s appointment or support group meeting, or even just accompanying them for a walk around the neighborhood.
Build a Support Team
It is important to keep the support and encouragement going, not just at the beginning of the illness. Your friend will need a whole team of supporters — both the medical and personal.
While your friend goes through the conventional medical treatments prescribed for cancer, they might also consider getting support from in the form of alternative and complementary treatments to assist with the holistic healing of body, mind, and spirit. These would help the body heal itself while alleviating some of the side effects of the conventional treatment. The team at the New Hope Medical Center can do just that.
New Hope Unlimited’s team of professional medical staff can help create an individualized holistic treatment plan. The plan will involve a combination of conventional treatments that are aggressive and non-invasive with research-based alternative medical care as well as complementary treatments that could help strengthen the body’s own natural defense system. These will all work together with medical therapies to eliminate the disease.
Throughout these treatments, you can be at your friend’s side to provide the encouragement, support, and positivity to help them on the road to future wellness.