Cancer and Friendship

Today, most people with cancer are treated as outpatients, meaning they don’t have to stay in the hospital. But they still often need help, support, and encouragement.

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Studies have found that cancer survivors with strong emotional support tend to adjust better to the changes cancer brings, have a more positive outlook, and often report a better quality of life. Research has shown that people with cancer need support from friends. You can make a big difference in the life of someone with cancer.

The Importance of Emotional Support

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Research highlights the significance of emotional support for cancer survivors. Those with a robust support network tend to adapt better to life changes caused by cancer, maintain a more positive outlook, and experience an improved quality of life. As a friend, your support can profoundly impact their well-being.

Some people find it hard to accept support – even when they need it. Don’t be surprised or hurt if your friend refuses help. It’s not you. It may be more their need for independence.

  • Provide emotional support through your presence and your touch.
  • Help the caregiver. In doing so, you’ll help your friend. Many people are afraid of being a burden to their loved ones.
  • Offer practical ideas on what you can do to help, and then follow through.
  • If your friend needs medical equipment or money for treatment, you can look into getting something donated or organising ways to help raise money.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

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Friends often wish to offer support but may be unsure how to do so effectively. Observing how cancer affects your friend’s daily life can guide you in identifying the best ways to assist them.

COMMUNICATING YOUR SUPPORT

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It’s crucial to let your friend know they matter to you, regardless of any changes in their abilities or appearance. Regular, brief communications through notes, texts, or calls can make a significant difference. Always express your intention to stay in touch and ensure you follow up accordingly.

MAKING VISITS

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Visiting your friend can provide great comfort and a sense of normalcy. Always coordinate visits in advance and be flexible, understanding that your friend’s ability to receive visitors may vary. Short, frequent visits are often more manageable and appreciated than longer, sporadic ones. Physical presence and small gestures like a touch or a smile can be very comforting.

ENGAGING IN CONVERSATION

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When talking to someone with cancer, the most crucial aspect is your presence and willingness to listen. Tailor your conversations to their comfort level and focus on topics that evoke positive emotions. Validate their feelings, whether they express negativity or need silence, and avoid pressing them to maintain a brave front.

ASSISTING WITH DAILY TASKS

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Offering help with everyday errands and tasks can relieve your friend and their caregiver. Whether it’s running errands, managing household chores, or involving them in regular activities, your proactive support is invaluable. Always coordinate with the caregiver to ensure your help is timely and appropriate.

THOUGHTFUL GIFTS

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Consider giving small, practical gifts that can bring joy and comfort to your friend’s daily life. Frequent, thoughtful tokens of friendship can brighten their day and are often more cherished than larger, less frequent gifts.

Suggested ideas:

  • Soft or silly socks
  • Fun hats or scarves
  • Bright, soft washcloths, towels, or sheets
  • Silk or satin pillowcases
  • Pajamas or a robe
  • Unusual toiletries, such as soap and lotion
  • Stamped postcards
  • Favorite or unusual foods or snacks
  • Self-care items, such as a cancer resource book, a special pillow, or a heating pad
  • A massage device
  • A small cordless phone
  • Pictures of friends
  • A CD or download of your friend’s favorite soothing music or nature sounds
  • Funny movies
  • Audio books
  • Journal or notebook

WHAT TO AVOID

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It’s important not to overstep boundaries with unwanted advice or judgments. Respect their space and choices, and avoid discussing topics that could invoke guilt or discomfort regarding their lifestyle choices or the illness itself. Instead, focus on being a compassionate and supportive presence.

**Overall, being a friend to someone with cancer involves patience, understanding, and a readiness to offer support in various forms. Your presence, both physically and emotionally, plays a pivotal role in enhancing their quality of life during challenging times.




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