The National Cancer Institute reports that an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. during 2016, which means that you are likely to know at least one person who has been recently diagnosed with cancer. Although the survival rates continue to be more promising than they were decades ago, a cancer diagnosis, whether skin cancer or mesothelioma, can leave someone feeling scared, overwhelmed, and even alone. Here are some ways that you can share your support after a friend, family member, or even co-worker has been diagnosed with cancer:
Make Yourself Available
When someone you know has been recently diagnosed with cancer, it’s not uncommon for you to wonder how much you should get involved. While some individuals prefer to be left alone for awhile, until they get things sorted out, others don’t want to be left alone. Rather than assuming that your friend or loved one wants to be left alone, just make yourself available and make sure that he or she knows that you’re just a phone call away. If you’re waiting for your friend to call you, send a simple note in the mail or even a text stating that you are thinking of him or her. Sometimes a quick text or note can make someone feel hopeful and better about their situation.
Think About What You Say
Often times, when someone has been diagnosed with a serious illness or disease, it’s difficult to know what to say. If you know someone well, you probably know how you can react and what he or she wants to or doesn’t want to hear. However, you may want to show support to a friend or co-worker and feel like you’re a loss for words. First of all, tell your friend that you’re open to talking to him or her about their diagnosis if they want to and if not, that’s OK. Secondly, let your friend lead the conversation and avoid trying to give advice or share stories about cancer unless he or she has requested them. Be complimentary and positive, but don’t push your friend to be positive and try not to be overly “inspirational”. Respect the emotional roller coaster that he or she may be going through. If he or she wants to be angry and negative, he or she has that right. Keep this in mind.
Offer to accompany your friend or loved one to appointments, errands, and even walks around the block. Your friend may need help with housework and other daily tasks, but don’t assume that he or she wants someone to take over. Wait for him or her to ask for help or offer to help, but never step in and take charge of his or her living space.
You can show your support and raise awareness for cancer any day of the year, but if you friend is battling breast cancer, for example, make sure you get involved during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. There are several opportunities to raising awareness through social media, registering to walk or run for cancer awareness, and you may even want to consider raising money at your own private event like a dinner, party, or bake sale.