Friendship: How you can make a difference for a friend facing cancer
by Lou James (MNZM) PINC & STEEL Founder
After 15 years of working in the cancer rehab field and supporting friends affected by cancer, I’ve learnt a few things about getting knocked down and getting back up again and the importance of friendship. Here are some of my suggestions for people who care about someone facing this horrible disease.
- Many studies have found that people affected by cancer with strong emotional support tend to better adjust to the changes cancer brings to their lives, have a more positive outlook, and often report a better quality of life.
- Every person’s experience with cancer is unique just like every human soul is unique. Yes – it is true that your Aunty may have had the same tumour and responded totally differently. I understand the desire to empathise but remember – everyone’s experience with cancer is unique.
- If you want to help be specific. Undergoing cancer treatment is hard work. Don’t make the person who is suffering do the work. “ Can I make you a meal?” , “Do you need help with getting groceries?” , “Can I take your dog for a walk?’.
- Make sure your friend knows they’re important to you. Show you still care for your friend despite changes in what they can do or how they look. Send brief, frequent notes or texts, or make short, regular calls.
- Cancer can be very isolating. Try to spend time with your friend – you may be a welcome distraction and help them feel like they did before cancer became a major focus in their life. Always call before you visit. Be understanding if your fried can’t see you at that time.
- Don’t over stay your welcome. For most people, going through cancer treatment is very energy sapping. There is a bunch of stuff we can’t see happening in the body and the soul and it is exhausting. Come for a few minutes – I use 20 minutes as a good gage – and then depart.
- Despite how fabulous you are, you can’t take all the suffering away. But your presence and your love can make the suffering bearable. Offer up as much love and kindness as you have. No one ever regrets being told they are loved.
Above all, people need friends throughout their treatment and beyond. If the treatment has stopped and the cancer has gone, this doesn’t mean they no longer need your support and love. Keep checking in.
If you want to support more people in their recovery from cancer treatment please set up your own fundraising page or donate to one of our fabulous Spirited Women teams already raising funds, here.