Nowadays, cancer patients undergo treatment as outpatients. They are not required to stay in hospital. But, cancer treatment can be very painful, debilitating, exhausting and depressing. They do need all the support and encouragement they can get…from family and friends.
So, how do they get what they need?
Much research has been done on this subject. Researchers have found that cancer survivors do much better with strong emotional support. Patients in remission are found to do the following:
- Adjust better to the life changes brought about by cancer
- Develop a more positive outlook
- Feel less depressed
- Enjoy a better quality of life
So, a cancer patient’s family and friends can, and do, make a huge difference in the lives of cancer patients.
So, what can you do?
Spend more time with your friend – find out how their daily life is being affected and changing because of this disease. Keep your friend busy with different activities – and consider whether these will need to change as the cancer treatment carries on. Personalizing the help and care to what your friend needs and likes doing, is the best way to support your friend.
You can show your friend how much you care. Send short, frequent notes or make regular calls. Ask questions about the treatment and state of health and mind. Return their calls and messages promptly. Be patient with them – chemo can be very tiring and nauseating: your friend could be irritable, go off food, exhausted and depressed. Be there for him or her.
Cancer patients can feel very isolated. They look different, they feel different. Chemo causes hair to fall out. Faces can look pale and washed out. Don’t let the way the patient looks and behaves change your behavior with them. Make short, regular visits instead of long, infrequent ones. Visit your friend as often as you can – and as often as he or she wants you to. Distract them. Make them feel like they used to before cancer struck. Give the caregiver a beak – your friend will appreciate that. And it will give you a chance to spend more quality time with your friend. Share music you both enjoy. Watch a TV show or a movie. Read a book together. There are many more things you can do to make a cancer patient undergoing chemo feel much better. Here are a few more activities and help you can offer them:
- Learn to listen. It helps the patient to come to a decision about treatments and medications.
- Take notes, be an advocate and accompany your friend to doctors’ appointments and treatment.
- Help and encourage your friend to read about others who blog about what they are going through, offering valuable advice through their writings.
- Suggest your friend communicates via email with other cancer sufferers about how they are coping. Much valuable advice can be exchanged in this manner.
- A light-hearted approach to the situation helps to keep the patient in a better frame of mind.
- Distract the patient – bring little gifts, nice treats to eat, books and magazines to read – all this will provide some welcome relief.
- Make the patent feel that getting help is not an obligation. Many people feel that asking for help means someone is doing the patient a favour.
- If there are kids in the house, try and make life feel as normal as possible. Your help with keeping the children occupied and distracted will really help the patient.