Unfortunately, the cancer journey can be a very long one and can test even the most patient of people. Some times there is lots to do and other times nothing at all. One of the things that got me through this journey was the very small group of committed friends and family that constantly checked in with me. I let everyone know that texting, email or messages through Facebook were the best mode of communication for me. It was just too exhausting to constantly answer the phone and make pleasantries while I was feeling so badly. If you know someone that has cancer, decide that you are going to check in on them on a regular basis. A quick daily or weekly check in will let that person know that you are thinking about them and also gives them the opportunity to ask for help or just have someone that will listen to them.
If you decide that you are going to check in...here are a few Do's & Dont's to reaching out...
Do: Ask what the best mode of communication is for them. Text, email, phone, Facebook…what works best for them?
Don’t: Rely on them to check in with you.
Do: Consistently check in. You are not bothering us. We want to know that people care and are thinking about us.
Don’t: Go on and on about something unless you know they are interested. Especially on the phone. I stopped picking up the phone, because it would sometimes exhaust me.
Do: Simple one liners will do: “How are you doing today”, “Do you need anything?” “How are you feeling?” All easy ways to open the conversation & touch base.
Don’t: Send articles that contradict the treatment options they have chosen. That is just so rude and unhelpful.
Do: Send a supportive note. Include flowers if budget allows. I made sure I had at least one fresh bouquet of flowers every week. Some came from friends and most of the time my husband would grab me a bouquet at the grocery store.
Don’t: Drop by their house unannounced. Somedays you are so sick you cannot even get out of bed.
Do: Be careful to not send too much cancer cure info unless they have told you that they are open to it. If they are, then share it.
Don’t: Send awful stories about people that have died from cancer. Really? We are trying to get better here and that is so wrong!
Do: Invite them to events, but be very understanding that they may not be able to attend. If they say they are coming, but cancel the day of the event. Be compassionate, they have cancer!
Don’t: Pressure them to attend events that you are having and DO NOT make them feel guilty if they say no.
Do: Offer to take over a duty at school or in a club that they volunteer with. When you have cancer, it is best to remove yourself from obligations & let friends and family pick up the slack.
Don’t: Ask them for any favors. That can be a burden for someone with cancer.
Do: Supportively accept any “No’s” that are given to you by someone with cancer. They would commit to it if they felt they could.
Don’t: Create tasks for someone with cancer. We have enough on our plate as it is.