Friendship and Cancer
Some people know exactly what to do when one of their close friends receives a cancer diagnosis. For others, learning that a friend has cancer poses some challenges. What can you do to help? How do you act? What do you say to someone you love with cancer?
The best thing you can do is continue being a good friend. Research shows that cancer patients with reliable emotional support fare better than those who don’t. It is critical that you remember the qualities that brought you and your friend together and find ways to navigate what lies ahead.
What Makes Someone A Good Friend?
In an article by Natalia Lusinksi, the author reveals a list of qualities that “experts” say make a good friend. The list includes some of the following characteristics of a good friend or friendship:
- They are loyal
- They are honest
- They are trustworthy
- The relationship is reciprocal
- They accept you “as is.”
- They listen
- They are supportive
- You share similar interests
- You share an emotional connection
- They are there during hard times as well as good
- They care about what is best for you
- They are helpful
- They don’t always need something from you
Many friends likely have some of the qualities listed above. However, when you find someone with all of them, consider yourself lucky. That person is going to be there for you no matter what, through thick and thin.
How Friendships Help Someone With Cancer
For some people, “no matter what” means a cancer diagnosis. Helping a friend through cancer takes strength, courage, commitment, patience, and trust. It is not for the faint of heart or those in tenuous relationships. When someone you are truly close with becomes sick, you are in a unique position to help – your solid relationship means you have the qualities your friend will likely need in the weeks and months to come.
How Can You Continue Being A Good Friend When Someone Has Cancer?
It is critical that you realize your relationship might change a bit when your friend receives a cancer diagnosis. The changes might be temporary, but you must understand that cancer can deeply affect the emotional and physical state of the patient. The more you recognize this, the better you can tailor your expectations and behavior and truly focus on what your friend needs and is experiencing.
Try to hold on to those qualities listed above that make your friendship strong, perhaps making some accommodations for the current situation.
For example, two qualities that make someone a good friend are helpful and reaching out “just because.” When your friend receives a cancer diagnosis, you will have endless opportunities to do both. You can offer to clean, drive, accompany them to treatments, cook meals, or run errands. You can schedule a time to watch her favorite movie together, take a walk or do something that might distract your friend from their illness. You can offer to keep her company while she sleeps off the effects of chemotherapy or radiation.
Two other qualities? Listening and being supportive. Now is the time for you to listen without judgment. Your friend needs to know that she can talk freely without worrying that you will try to change her mind or invalidate her feelings. Cancer can be scary and as hard as it may be for you to hear some of what she has to say, listen attentively. Allow your friend the luxury of feeling sad or negative for a bit. You don’t always have to respond or try to change the subject.
And perhaps the most important quality on that friendship list – being there for each other through good times and bad. Cancer is bad. Don’t run away from your friend because you are not sure what to say or do. Use that honesty quality to ask, “What can I do to help?” or “What do you need from me to make this better?”
Unfortunately, having a friend who you generally rely on for emotional support receive a cancer diagnosis means that you might need to rely on other sources for some time. It is important that you find someone to talk to about your own feelings about her illness so you can be a better friend and focus on her needs.
Send A Cancer Gift Box
Another way to demonstrate your support for a friend with cancer is by sending gifts. Gifts are a great way to lift the spirits of anyone undergoing cancer treatments. Gifts that can help are even better.
If someone you love has cancer, send them a helpful cancer gift basket from Rock The Treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets are packed with the essentials needed to ease side effects of treatment, as well as enhance physical and mental well-being. See all of our cancer care packages and find the one that best supports their journey.