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4 Ways To Help Someone Going Through Cancer Treatment

by Stella Robinson

If you have a friend or family member who is going through treatment for cancer, you might feel like there is not much you can do to help them. You might wish to give them hope, help them feel better, or take away some of the pain of the disease and side effects of treatment. You might not be able to do much about the physical pain of cancer, but there are some meaningful ways that you can make a difference. 

1. Take care of other family members.

All of the focus is going to be on the person that has the illness. It's easy for people to forget that other people in the family need emotional and lifestyle support too. Primary caregivers (spouses or parents of the patient) can get burned out by all the hospital visits, rounds of chemotherapy, bills, and caring for the needs of other immediate family members.

Make it easier by offering to take some of the daily load. You might:

  • offer to clean the house once a week so that family members can focus on supporting each other.
  • bring meals. Healthy eating can fall by the wayside because of time spent working with medical concerns. You can even ask your friend with cancer if you can bring them anything to eat while in the hospital. Hospital food can get dull, so nothing might taste better than a home-cooked dish every so often. 
  • provide rides to school for children, or a place for them to stay after school.

These are simple services, but they can go far in helping the patient to feel less stress about how the needs of their family are being met. 

2. Write letters and bring books.

Hospital stays can get dull, and some rounds of chemo therapy can take hours to administer. It's a huge time commitment, and for some patients, it can be lonely. Take time to write letters to the patient. Keep in mind that your friend might get a lot of letters and cards, so make your specific and long with details that will engage them.

At the end, you can absolve your friend of any obligation to write you back (they may feel overwhelmed with the idea of sending thank you notes and messages to everybody who has shown them kindness) by stating that while you would love to hear from them or you are there if they need somebody to talk to, they don't have to feel obligated to send letters back in return. 

If you aren't a letter writer, you might send a new book to your friend each month as they go through treatment. A series can help someone stay engaged and give them something more than TV to distract them.

3. Donate where it matters most. 

This might not directly help your friend, but it helps the millions who are in the same boat. For example, you might make a donation to a cancer research fund in their name. Other contributions include:

  • registering in races where all the proceeds go to cancer research.
  • donating blood at your local hospital.
  • joining the bone marrow registry in case you are a match for someone who needs a transplant.

Actions speak louder than words, and supporting your friend in a tangible way by joining the fight against cancer can mean a lot to someone who is struggling with the disease. 

4. Give of yourself.

You might not be a world-class oncologist, but you still have something to offer the world. If you're a great baker, you might bring fresh bread to the family. If you're a talented musician, why not make some recordings covering some of your friend's favorite songs? These gifts are meaningful because they come from you. 

For more information, contact establishments like Silver Cancer Institute.