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How to Help a Friend With Cancer

How to Help a Friend With Cancer

by Health & Wellness Team - October 29, 2014

Someone you care about is facing cancer, and you want—very much—to support your friend. But you don’t know what to say or do.

You’re hardly alone with how you feel.

For many of us, cancer is a frightening disease, and something frightening can make us feel uneasy. So if you feel uncomfortable reaching out, it might help to know that one of the most meaningful ways to offer support is to simply be available to listen. In fact, it’s even OK to say: “I don’t know what to say. But I care, and I’m sorry you’re going through this.”

And while there are no set rules for helping someone with cancer—different people may have different needs—there are some general do’s and don’ts.

DO
• Become informed. As a first step, try to learn about your friend’s diagnosis—for instance, by finding out the basic details from a family member or mutual friend. It might be draining for your friend to repeat the same information to several people.
• Follow your friend’s cues. Your friend may feel relieved to talk openly about his or her illness. Or the opposite might be true. Your friend might need privacy. Respect your friend’s desires.
• Try not to let cancer dominate your friendship. As much as possible, try to treat your friend as you always have. Talk to your friend about his or her interests that have nothing at all to do with cancer.
• Offer to help in concrete ways. You might volunteer to cook dinner, pick up prescriptions or babysit if your friend has children.

DON’T
• Be afraid to talk about the illness. And if your friend feels anxious or sad, allow your friend to express these feelings.
• Offer advice if not asked. Also, respect your friend’s treatment decisions, even if you disagree.
• Feel you have to respond. A caring listener may be the best medicine of all.
• Make assumptions. Try not to tell your friend, “I know how you feel.” You really can’t, unless you’ve also faced cancer.

The Cancer Empowerment & Resource Center at Shannon is a resource available to those fighting cancer and their loved ones. Education is an essential part of cancer care for patients and their families and friends. The Empowerment & Resource Center houses educational resources such as books, DVDs and self-examination models. Two computers are available to access information online. A staff member is also available to assist with any need or question. The Center also offers free monthly educational classes open to the community.

Audio-visual equipment, a retractable video screen and a conference table allow for presentations and meetings. The center will hold monthly classes featuring various cancer-related topics and will host support group meetings.

A special, Live Well, Feel Beautiful area provided by Grigsby’s Boutique is located within the resource center. This area houses a wig and makeup station for patient utilization and consultation.

The Cancer Empowerment and Resource Center is located in Suite 130 on the first floor of the Shannon Medical Plaza. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and additional hours as scheduled. For more information, call (325) 481-2065 or email us at CancerEmpowerment@shannonhealth.org.

For more information about cancer services and the Cancer Empowerment & Resource Center at Shannon, please visit www.shannonhealth.com.

   

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