Lauren's story: how to support a friend through cancer
Someone close to you has just heard the words "you have cancer". What do you do? How do you best support them through cancer diagnosis and treatment while also taking care of yourself? In honour of Family Caregivers Month, Lauren openly shares her insights on caring for a friend, partner or family member who has cancer.
DIAGNOSIS: How did your friend react to her cancer diagnosis?
The night of Vicki finding out her diagnosis, she cried herself to sleep on my lap. After the initial shock and fears that come along with cancer, she was determined to do everything she could to survive.
SUPPORT: How did you support your friend through her cancer journey?
I helped Vicki in whatever capacity she needed. At times she craved solitude and other times she just wanted a good night out at the pub to feel normal again. I always ensured she had someone to accompany her to appointments and hospital visits as this can be a long and boring day.
WORDS OF WISDOM: How can we best help a friend going through cancer?
Be aware that the journey is generally very turbulent and to just be there for your friend in whatever capacity it is that they need at the time. Don’t be offended if they want to be alone.
Any patient will always appreciate small but meaningful gestures such as buying them a cute hat or beanie if they have lost their hair during treatment or if they’re feeling nauseous make some fresh ginger and mint tea for them or drop off some home cooked meals to their home that they can freeze and bring out at anytime.
SELF CARE: How important was self care to you when accompanying your friend through her cancer journey?
I encourage any friend or family member (and the patient) to engage in holistic therapies and activities such as yoga, meditation, and walks in nature to assist with the stress, low vibrational energy and trauma that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Be sure to take care of yourself so that you are able to not only be there for your friend but to continue living your life also.
Depending on the patient's situation, the financial burden can become heavy if their employment situation changes. If living rurally they may have to move to the city for treatment, etc. If you are in a position to afford it, maybe help pay a household bill or their hospital parking costs (those are super exxy) or even better give them a lift to and from hospital visits.
Thank you Lauren for sharing your experience and insights.
Lauren and Mel