Who Is My Friend?

May 16, 2019 | Megan Roessler M. Ed. | @meganroessler | Comments (2)

shutterstock_1206609022When working with cancer patients and their families, a common thing I hear is "I'm surprised by my friend."  People say they are surprised by a friend they didn't imagine would be present or are hurt by someone, once supportive, who has now "ditched" them.  While it is comforting when unsuspecting individuals "step up," it can be equally challenging when close friends do not.  It' s hard to understand why people step away when we are going through a challenging time.  Perhaps they are too busy and stressed themselves to be supportive.  Maybe they have experienced someone else in their life who has, or had, cancer and it brings back painful memories.  The possibilities are endless and are, for the most part, out of our control. One thing we can take charge of is being a good friend to someone when they have cancer. Below are some ideas.

  • Send a card or text to say you are thinking about them.  We don't receive "snail mail" often and a handwritten note carries a lot of meaning.
  • If they call you.... return their message and do it quickly!
  • When you talk to them or text them, say you'll be in touch soon and follow through with that promise!
  • Check in with their caregiver to find out what the patient's (and caregiver's) needs are.
  • Ask them how they are doing today, this morning, this afternoon.  It is an easier question to answer because it is specific and may allow for more honesty and transparency.

Give patients room and permission to feel whatever they are feeling - sad, happy, hopeful, frustrated.  In our classes, patients have shared it's difficult to be told they are brave or strong, when it doesn't match with where they are at emotionally. Asking questions and listening without judgement is invaluable. Sometimes, sitting together in silence might even be what's needed most.

What has a friend done for you that you found helpful?  Please share so we can all sharpen our friendship skills!

Connect with others or start a discussion in the Caregiver group or the Cancer group.

 

Thank you so much for your various warm-hearted informative and helpful messages and useful tips how to cope with patients much better!

I’m so pleased to hear your kind comment or tips saying, “One thing we can take charge of is being a good friend to someone when you they have cancer.”
I think patients tend to feel isolated and depressed naturally.
So it’d be so grateful to be considered by someone reading their notes, watching smiley faces, letting friends listen to patients’ feelings and daily life etc.

Now, I’m a cancer survivor.
I was first diagnosed with advanced colon cancer at the age of 41 in 1999.
I had experienced metastasis to liver and right lung and ended up chemotherapy in April 2007.

Happy to say, I’ll be celebrating my 20th anniversary this coming October, of course, I have no idea what’s will happen to my body, though.
Once I was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, my primary doctor explained to me and my family members after the operation that my cancer condition was so serious and had a high chance of recurrence or metastasis and added “ Enjoy your life!’

Keep up the good work.
I’m truly proud of you, all!

Best regards,

Taka from Japan

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@smileycancer

Thank you so much for your various warm-hearted informative and helpful messages and useful tips how to cope with patients much better!

I’m so pleased to hear your kind comment or tips saying, “One thing we can take charge of is being a good friend to someone when you they have cancer.”
I think patients tend to feel isolated and depressed naturally.
So it’d be so grateful to be considered by someone reading their notes, watching smiley faces, letting friends listen to patients’ feelings and daily life etc.

Now, I’m a cancer survivor.
I was first diagnosed with advanced colon cancer at the age of 41 in 1999.
I had experienced metastasis to liver and right lung and ended up chemotherapy in April 2007.

Happy to say, I’ll be celebrating my 20th anniversary this coming October, of course, I have no idea what’s will happen to my body, though.
Once I was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, my primary doctor explained to me and my family members after the operation that my cancer condition was so serious and had a high chance of recurrence or metastasis and added “ Enjoy your life!’

Keep up the good work.
I’m truly proud of you, all!

Best regards,

Taka from Japan

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Thank you, Taka, for your kind words! And I'm happy to hear you are approaching your 20th anniversary – that is great news! Suggestions of what to do in a person's time of need are always helpful. It seems like we should know how to be a good friend, but reminders and kind gestures are very helpful and hopefully will prompt us to take action:)

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