With the prevalence of cancer in this country, it is likely that you have known someone who is fighting or has been impacted by cancer. Whether it is a friend from work whose mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer or a close friend who has been battling cancer for years, knowing what to say and how to support them can be a difficult task. We often feel scared to say the wrong thing or feel like we lack the time it would take to have an in-depth conversation about what’s going on. So what do we say? What do we do? Unfortunately, sometimes we choose nothing. Now imagine if everyone in that person’s life handled their feelings in this way. They would be completely isolated and alone. Here a few suggestions to prevent the feelings of abandonment and how you can support them during this difficult time.
How many times have you heard someone say or said yourself, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” And how often has the person replied, “Okay, can you pick up my dry cleaning, get my oil changed, and clean my house?” Never. Even though we have every intention to do anything we can to help, people don’t tend to take us up on these ambiguous offers. Try making specific suggestions. For example, “Can I come by and help you clean?” or “Would you like for me to pick up some groceries for you while I’m out?” They’ll be more likely to accept your offer.
Simply Be There
In an attempt to cope with our feelings of hopelessness and lack of control, we might try to solve the problems or make things better for the person. This is good-natured, but can sometimes distract from what others are experiencing. Sometimes instead of hearing about silver linings or suggestions, people just need you to be present and empathize. It’s okay sometimes to just say “This is hard.”.
It’s okay to talk about the weather
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it can quickly overcome their entire lives. Old conversations about how work is going are replaced with conversations about how the chemotherapy treatment is going. Allow your loved one to talk about cancer if they want, and allow them and yourself the freedom to talk about the Carolina Panthers game or the inconsistent Charlotte weather. The world is still turning despite the cancer diagnosis and your friend/ loved one is still a part of it.
Counseling sessions with a professional are a great way to explore your feelings and receive the emotional support needed during the difficult time as well as exploring how you can be a better asset to your loved one. A Thriveworks Counselor can help. Make an appointment at thriveworks.com/charlotte-
Want to spread your support for cancer survivors and fighters?? The GoJenGo Foundation is a non-profit institution dedicated to supporting individuals and families in North and South Carolina who have been impacted by breast cancer. For more information on how to help GoJenGo support local individuals, visit gojengo.org.