Your friend just broke the news to you that they have cancer. It is a terrible feeling to see someone you love go through such a life-threatening disease. You may not know how to approach your friend or how to help them battle cancer. You’re not sure whether talking about cancer or how the disease is making them feel is appropriate or not.
It does not only take a toll on them, but you might also feel overwhelmed because it makes you uncomfortable, sad, and anxious. These feelings can sometimes overpower you so much that you are afraid to see your friend, not knowing what to say or how to be with them anymore.
But you must let go of this feeling and be there for your friend. It is a hard time for them, and they need your support and care. So, be there as much as you can to maintain your relationship as you usually would.
Here is a little guide that can help you support your friend battling cancer. Since every friendship is different, it is essential to take into account your relationship dynamics, too.
Tips to Help Support Your Friend Battle Cancer
1. Prepare Yourself First
Before you talk or meet with your friend, who has been diagnosed with cancer, it is best to prepare yourself first. Here are some things to sort out:
Feelings: As we have mentioned above, knowing your friend has cancer will impact you emotionally, too. Thus, first, sort through your feelings and then go over and talk.
Know about the diagnosis: It is good to know what the diagnosis is, but don’t push if your friend is not forthcoming. It is emotionally tiring for them and physically, too. They might open up when they feel comfortable. You can even talk to their family or spouse to get more details.
2. Expect Anything and Everything
Cancer takes a toll on the patient, emotionally and physically. Thus, prepare yourself to support your friend battle cancer in every way possible. Here are some tips that might help:
Vomiting: Chemotherapy and cancer drugs can make your friend nauseous. They may vomit after eating things they used to like before. So, don’t feel bad if they don’t eat the food you made for them or stop going to places you both went to back. Instead, ask what makes them feel comfortable and do that for them.
Embarrassment: Your friend will lose their hair at one point in time. They will look messy and physically weak. This can make them feel embarrassed, as well. But get over it, and encourage your friend that it is nothing to be sorry about.
Weakness and fatigue: They will feel weak and tired, and exertion can make them weaker. So, before you make any plans to go out, make sure you ask them if they are up for it. Let them make the call and make sure that they don’t over-exert themselves.
3. Make Them Feel Motivated
A doctor’s appointment or chemotherapy session can make your friend feel nervous. Be sure to go with them, but ask them if it is okay first. Make sure you reassure them that they will feel better soon. Also, if an opportunity arises, take it and make light of a moment. Laugh together, share funny stories, and make your friend feel happy and normal.
Keep motivating them to fight against cancer. Make the environment stimulating by hanging motivational posters in their room. Give it a personal touch and make the poster on your own to make them feel motivated.
4. Ask for Their Permission
Before you ask them about anything related to cancer or offer them advice, make sure they want it. Giving unnecessary advice (or too much of it) can make them feel irritable.
5. Have Patience
Dealing with cancer is hard, and it can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression and mood swings. They might feel distant or off when you meet them or might not call or text often. They can even get frustrated with small things; it can be difficult. But you have to be patient with them and try to understand what they are going through.
6. Be Realistic
Make realistic plans and talk about all the possibilities. They might be afraid of thinking about the future, but make sure that you help them see the positive side. Do make plans that you can fulfill now.
It can also help to take your friend for counseling. This will enable them to navigate their feelings better and live in the now.
Lastly, just be there for your friend when the battle cancer; make them laugh, encourage them to live their life to the fullest! Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself, as it will take a toll on you emotionally, too.