Featured image via American Adoptions
Friends support each other, and the strength of friendships are tested during the toughest of times. Illness is one of those tough times. Cancer.net is a website that provides information approved by doctors from ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology), and they’ve posted an article detailing how to support friends fighting cancer.
The most important thing when talking to a friend struggling with cancer is to take time for yourself first. This is a tough subject, and going in unprepared can make things more difficult for your friend. You need to process how you feel first, understand your emotions and cope with them, so you don’t end up making it all about yourself. Learn about some details regarding his diagnosis, you’ll need to know those details, and inquiring the patient himself is not the most understanding method. Before you talk with your friend, think how he feels about this news, ponder what’s going through his mind, and if you haven’t seen your friend for a while, be prepared to find some changes in appearance such as weight or hair loss.
When it comes to the talk itself, there are etiquettes for speaking with your friend about this issue. The first step is to ask permission about whether or not they’re ok with talking about it, but remain flexible in case they need to take a rain check on the conversation. When sitting together, remember to remain light-hearted, laugh with your friend, offer to help them with anything they need, talk about anything other than cancer, but most importantly, treat them the same as you would any other friend, walking on eggshells will only remind them of their troubles. While keeping things joyful is important, it’s equally important to allow your friend to be sad, so encourage them to express their feelings if you feel they wish to do so.
You may know what feelings to convey, but sometimes your words will not come out with the most proper intentions. It’s crucial that you don’t make them feel like this is nothing, don’t say phrases like “don’t worry”, or tell them that “it’s going to be fine.” Unless you’ve gone through the exact same thing, don’t claim to know how they feel, instead, try to understand, and ask them what they’re feeling, what they’re thinking of doing, and if they need any support from you. Let them know you care, and that you’re thinking about them.
After you’ve had your sit down with your friend, you need to make sure that you follow through with your intent. Make sure you call them every once in a while, and don’t make this meet-up a one-time thing. Remain available in case they need any help, and support them in any way they need. Sometimes they’ll rely on blogging or posting on social media, a simple Like can make them feel heard.
Try to remember what makes your friend happy; long walks, going to the movies, or sitting at home with comfort food. Plan such activities with your friend, and bring people they like with you. Make sure you help out your friend, but learn what they need first. Do they need help cooking meals, running errands, or driving around town? Offer help, but make sure that help is personalised to their needs.
Never undervalue the importance of your help, people struggling with cancer need any emotional support they can get, so be a pillar of that support.
For more information check out the website here.