The Importance of Being There for a Friend with Cancer

The Importance of Being There for a Friend with Cancer

The Importance of Being There for a Friend with Cancer

It is difficult to watch a friend suffer from cancer. You watch as he seems to grow weaker, his hair falls out from the chemotherapy, and his life seems to revolve around doctor visits. Because you are this person’s friend, you are actually an essential part of his recovery and care. There’s so much you can do, ranging from simple notes of encouragement to talking on the phone. As Karen Riddell writes in Psychology Today, friendship fights cancer. As a friend, you can join the patient in the ring to fight the disease.

In addition to some of the basic ways to show support, there are a few others as well. 

Be the Chauffeur

Think about it: Anytime you have a bad head cold, the last thing you want to do is get in your car and drive somewhere, even if it’s to the drug store to get some medicine. Now, think of how it might be for your friend who has cancer and the number of trips he needs to make to the doctor or elsewhere. In some cases, his physician might forbid him from driving. Also, some insurance companies might raise the rates of someone with a disease. If he doesn’t have a spouse, significant other, or family member who can drive him, let that be your job. Drive her to treatments, doctor appointments, or anywhere she needs to go. If it’s treatment or a doctor visit, stay with her and bring him home. And if you aren’t able to provide the wheels, pay for an Uber or Lyft ride. But no matter how you do it, make sure your friend has a ride to go where she needs to, which will give him peace of mind.

Be Mindful of the Medicine and Side Effects

There are a variety of side effects from cancer medicine, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Those include delirium, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, sleep issues, and urinary tract problems. Be aware of these as you visit your friend. Lend a hand if she needs assistance to go to the bathroom, or be considerate if you’re visiting and he feels too tired to carry on a conversation and is suddenly too tired to talk. Just make sure she has what he wants or needs before you leave.

If your friend’s physician has prescribed an opioid for cancer pain management after surgery, keep in mind that they are potentially abusable drugs. According to a study by the University of Michigan, 6 percent of patients who take opioids for the first time end up taking them for a longer time than recommended. As a friend, be mindful of the potential for addiction and learn to recognize the signs of an addiction. If your friend is ever unresponsive or keeps passing out, contact his physician immediately. 

Be an Extra Set of Hands

Your friend and his family can always use an extra set of hands to help with household tasks and more. Offer to vacuum and dust, clean the bathroom, and do the weekly laundry. Consider hiring a professional furniture cleaning company to help spruce up your friend’s living quarters, which will help create a less stressful, more relaxing environment.

If you’re handy with tools, offer to make any minor repairs around the house or even help create a meditation room for your friend, complete with a trickling water fountain and a source of music. The benefits of meditation for cancer patients are well known, and your friend can have his own space specifically for it.

Going through treatment for cancer is rough. But as a friend, you can offer an endless supply of love, concern, and support that can help your friend through the rough times. 

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