Teal Tuesdays- How to Support Someone Living with Cancer

by - Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Cancer is really freaking scary, and it can be hard to approach when one of us faces it firsthand. We all have our own instincts and emotions when someone close to us is diagnosed with cancer, but I hope this list helps us cut through what is helpful to those surrounding the person and what the person battling cancer actually needs. Aunt Ann, who has been living with cancer since 2012, and her sister (My Mom) wrote an amazing list of advice for how to best support someone living with cancer. Some of their suggestions might surprise you, but they can be great tips to remember for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month!

1. Pray for the person diagnosed with cancer. God is in the miracle business. Ask your friends and family to pray.

2. Grieve the unavoidable life changes for the person with cancer; and don’t assume that cancer is a death sentence.

3. Get your head around your own grief and concerns before you make yourself available to assist the person with cancer with his/her grief. While grief can and should be shared, your grief should not cast a shadow over your relationship with the person with cancer.

4. Understand that there are many decisions to be made; and most of the decisions are grey, not black and white. Be prepared to listen as the family dealing with cancer discusses multiple options for managing the disease.

5. Always be honest with the person with cancer.

6. Resist the urge to make predictions or provide medical advice. Keep the knowledge that you have gained through your medical explorations on the Internet to yourself. Eating avocadoes for 5 days while standing on your head in the sun may have worked for someone, but the best medical advice will come from the qualified professionals caring for the person with cancer.

7. The person with cancer is still interesting and has interests outside of cancer. Don’t forget to chat about these things, too.

8. Cancer is not contagious, but a negative attitude can be. Be positive; be there.

9. Encouragement is key. Send positive messaging, like “Fight like a girl.” Send cards, letters, pictures, flowers (but not real smelly ones!), and tokens of love, especially during rough treatment times. Laugh. Tell jokes and funny stories. Live life together.

10. Call, text, email… communicate… Don’t over-think your communications. If the person with cancer pops into your head, call or text. Then keep your conversation short checking frequently to see if the person with cancer needs to go.

11. Fighting cancer is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t forget to pray for and encourage the person with cancer all along the course.

12. Take care of the caretakers. Give them breaks from the important role of caretaking by sitting with the person, driving the person with cancer to a treatment or doctor visit, etc. Send the caretaker encouragement and praise for the essential work that they are doing.

Hope this gives you some insight on what you can do to best support someone you love! What can you also do? Wear teal every tuesday this month to raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer, which is one of the most deadly but least discussed cancers facing women! Together we can bring more attention (and hopefully early detection and research) to this horrible cancer!

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