Almost everyone I know either has had cancer, or has a loved one with cancer. It’s something that most of us have had to face at one time or another.
This story serves a couple different purposes: firstly, to shed some light on how we can help others who are suffering; secondly, to help me work through some crummy news that I recently received.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. The docs have taken a very aggressive treatment approach, and before we could all digest the news, she was already in chemotherapy treatments.
She is facing six rounds of chemo, and my understanding is that she’ll go one week on, three weeks off. By the time she starts to feel good again, she’ll have to get another treatment. This is going to go on for months.
Her friends and family have joined forces around her, to support her and get her through this, which we know she will. I have found throughout this process that the helpless feeling I keep getting is gradually getting stronger.
Since so many of our readers are affected by this daily, here is a list of great things to help inspire the friends and family of those who are suffering, whether it’s as a result of cancer or any other illness.
How To Help A Loved One Who Has Cancer
1. Offer to help
Whether you’re offering to do the dishes, clean the house, or let the dogs out, any little thing helps.
Those going through treatment will often be too ill and fatigued for them to keep up on necessary household chores.
A note: if you want to bring food or cook, be sure to check with the patient first. A lot of times, different treatments can cause a reaction that will turn a person off to their favorite food. If their tastes change, you’ll want to make sure they’re getting as much out of your meal as they can.
2. Get crafty
I am personally not crafty. I’d love to be, but I lack both the talent and the patience for it. That’s why I think it’s quite the feat when I finally make something that is unique, and gift it to someone else.
Take the time, complete a project, and give your hand-made gem to your loved one. It will be a gift that they’re likely to hold close to their heart. It may not be a Tiffany necklace, but the time and thought put into it is worth far more than gold.
3. Talk, or more importantly, listen.
I could never imagine the sea of emotions through which my friend is going. I’ve talked to her briefly about it. Some days are better than others.
In the beginning, she was having a very difficult time with it. As time has gone on, she seems to be in a very healthy place, and she’s ready to kick the crap out of cancer, because simply put, she’s not going anywhere! She has a huge support system.
In an effort to not overwhelm her, I’ve tried to stay out of the way, and I send her a quick note here and there. However, I am realizing the importance of talking. It not only helps me to get a grip on what’s happening, but it helps her as well.
Just being a friend and being there to listen is important, and is sometimes the best thing you can do to help your loved one with cancer. Keep in mind that even with a support system, it can be very easy for acccer sufferer to feel very isolated and alone. We can all do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen to those we love.
4. Make gift bags
During chemo, my friend is hooked up for over 6 hours at a time. Talk about boring. She’s already done her best to make sure she’s got plenty to do in the meantime, but I still felt like I could do something to help her out.
I Googled “Chemo bag,” and found that there are TONS of sites with all kinds of ideas for these bags. I’m putting one together as we speak! I picked up one of those cute little reusable grocery bags, and I’m filling it with mints, tacky magazines, an inspirational book, cross-stitch patterns and thread, hard candies to combat dry mouth, candied ginger to help with nausea, a list of my favorite television comedies and goofy movies for her to catch up with on Netflix, Breast Cancer Awareness goodies, and tons of other stuff.
I know it’ll brighten her day, and if it helps her pass the time in any way during treatment, then I’ve helped her, and that is my goal.
Even if you don’t know someone going through this type of treatment, you can still do this. Load it up with fun stuff, inspirational memorabilia, and one-of-a-kind gifts that will remind them of you. They’ll be grateful, and it allows you to feel, if only for a moment, that you’ve helped them through this chapter of life.
5. Use your passion
I know that my personal takeaway from this story is that I finally have it on paper that I have somewhat of a game plan in understanding how to help my lovely friend. Writing is my therapy—always has been.
If you have a passion, incorporate it somehow into helping your loved ones through a difficult time. Whether it’s a hobby, a good book, music, etc., use it to help you find your way.
For all of you afflicted with cancer, or any other type of diagnosis, know this: I wish I could take it all away, not only for my friend, but for all of you. Please know that your friends and family want so deeply to be able to help, but many feel helpless. By staying so strong, you are our inspiration, and we would take the pain away if we could.
For those who are struggling with cancer or helping a loved one through it, I hope that you also can take something away from this, and that I have said something to resonate. I also hope that anyone reading this who is hurting or struggling may soon find peace.
Audra Dittlinger is a contributor for Inspiyr.com, as well as a full-time working mom living in rural Indiana. She is an insurance professional with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She writes to create, inspire, and empower.
Photo by Northstar IOP