While knowing how to be there for a friend or family member who is going through cancer treatment can be difficult, it’s absolutely vital that you’re there for them. Studies have shown that cancer patients with strong support from friends and family can improve their quality of life and even help their treatment outcomes. Ultimately, everyone is different and not every cancer patient will respond the same way to certain types of support. Some prefer gifts and favors while others just need someone to listen and be present for them. That’s why, above all, it’s important to stay attentive to their requests and responses, doing what you can to be a great friend. If you have a friend or family member who has been recently diagnosed, here are some ideas to help you stay focused on just that.
1) Be Present & Available
One of the very worst things you can do is avoid your loved one after they’ve been diagnosed. It might be that you feel awkward and don’t know how to respond, but it will very likely be interpreted as a lack of care. Don’t make this mistake, which could ultimately ruin your friendship. Instead, be in regular contact, calling and texting, reminding them that you’re thinking of them and are there to support them in any way you can. Beyond the physical toll that cancer treatment can take on a person, the emotional toll is extremely difficult, as well, and you should make yourself as available as possible to help them get through it. It might also be helpful to stay in regular contact with their primary caregiver to make sure you’re on the same page and to discover other ways you could help.
2) Help with Chores & Errands
The physical and emotional challenges that come with cancer treatment can make it extremely difficult to stay on top of day-to-day life. That’s why sometimes the best way to support a loved one is to help with practical needs, such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, and other basic tasks. It might seem like a small thing, but removing these responsibilities while allowing your loved one to focus on getting better and staying positive can be a huge help.
3) Buy a Thoughtful Gift
Showing your loved one support through gifts can be really impactful. That said, it’s important not to view gifts as substitutes for being there for them. Also, it’s vital that you show you understand their situation with the gifts you buy, finding items that will help them with their struggle. To learn more about appropriate gift buying for cancer patients, check out our post How to Gift Shop for Chemo Patients.
4) Learn About Their Disease
You might think you understand what your loved one is going through, but chances are you don’t fully understand their challenges. From the physical struggles to the sometimes-crippling anxiety, it’s important that you gain a deeper understanding of their cancer battle. Not only will this help you be more knowledgeable when talking to them, but it will help you know how to better be supportive.
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