For more information on cancer support, please check out my blog: Hope Lives Now!
Tips for walking with someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Offer them hope at ever opportunity. This can be through words wisely chosen, cards, emails or little gifts. It is really easy to get discouraged, especially when you feel ill, battle fatigue and are in pain.
Freezer meals were a life saver in our home. Simple meals that can be put in the oven. Knowing my family's nutritional needs were being provided for offered me the chance to concentrate more on healing.
Snacks are good too. When you are getting groceries for your own family,pick up an extra bag of chips, cookies or goodies. Members of the household will love you! My shopping trips were very limited d/t fatigue and infection potential so snacks were limited. Plus, cancer treatment includes many extra costs, so "treats" are something that often get cut from the budget.
Other: A friend of ours brought such delight when they dropped off a big pack of toilet paper and some paper towels. A few less things that my husband had to remember to pick up when he did errands and helped save us some costs.
A group of our friends came and cleaned our home every two weeks while I was going through chemotherapy. This gift was very appreciated by all. (If cleaning house isn't your thing and you can afford too...give a gift for housecleaning services.)
If the cancer survivor has a blog or caring bridge page, comment on their updates. The comments that were left on my caringbridge were a great source of encouragement to me, especially during the lonely and fearful times.
A friend of mine printed encouraging scriptures on post cards. I still carry these cards with me.
Give a "blue bag." Put several small gifts in a bag that can be opened whenever the survivor feels "blue". The gifts can be silly or practical. A friend gave me a blue bag and I had so much fun anticipating each gift. (yes, it did help me from feeling blue--knowing someone loved and cared about me enough to take the time to make this gift.)
Offer support for dreams to be fulfilled. Encourage the survivor to think about lost dreams and to set future goals and plans. Assist in helping them obtain their dream if possible. A few "dream believers" walked into my life and supported me so I could fulfill a dream of mine to attend the SheSpeaks conference in North Carolina. (A gift I will cherish forever!)
Pray with the survivor. Some days I was to weak to pray, but I coveted the times when someone would visit and pray with me, call on the phone and pray with me, or email me a prayer written for me.
At every opportunity--celebrate! Celebrate clean scans! Celebrate the half way point of chemo! Celebrate the end of chemo! Celebrate the end of radiation! Celebrate any chance you can!
Simple ways to celebrate are goofy hats or necklaces, bubbles, confetti, or special food treats.
Cancer treatment is really hard on the body both physically and emotionally.
Pretty hat or scarf (if they lose their hair)
Pretty and soft lounge wear
Message when treatment is completed
A gift certificate for "make over" to be used a few months after treatment is completed.
When I was going through treatment, I felt as if my life was on hold, while everyone else was out having a good time. I still cherish the times when someone would take the time to just sit with me. Time is really a precious gift you can give someone.
If the cancer survivor has a spouse or children, try to remember them. They often suffer along with their loved one.
One night a group of friends came to our home...the guys took my husband out for supper and the gals stayed and babysat me. The evening was such a blessing to us both.
Another friend took my 13 year old daughter for a "beauty make over." She delighted in a day of pampering.
If you can, give them gift cards to the movies, bowling, swimming, fast food and offer to sit with the cancer survivor (if needed.)
THINGS NOT TO SAY:
Please, please, please don't tell them about your Uncle Henry who puked his guts out when he was going through chemo. Knowing this isn't going to help, it just increases fears.
Please, please, please don't tell them about so and so just dying from cancer. Death from cancer is a reality. We know that. We live that. We don't need anyone reminding us of this possibility.
Please don't tell me that cancer is a gift. If you think it is gift, I can wrap it up and give it to you.
Please don't tell me that God must really love me as He gave me this burden to carry. This goes against all my theological beliefs. God loves me! Period! The previous statement makes me want to say, does that means He doesn't love you as much, because you didn't get cancer?
THINGS TO SAY:
I love you!
You can do this!
I believe in you!
You are an inspiration!
You are beautiful!
You are courageous!
Can I pray with you?
God loves you!
God is with you every step!
God can carry you when you are too weak to walk on your own!
I am here!
I am proud of you!
Keep it up, your doing a great job!
How are you? (don't forget to stop and listen if you ask this question.)
I am praying for you!