Cancer Education Center

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PUBLIC PAGE
Thu, Jun 14, 2018 12:00pm

The Importance of Friends

By Wendy Hanson, MPH, @wendyhanson

shutterstock_324558662Think back to the last time you spent time with a good friend or a group of friends. Hopefully you experienced feelings of acceptance, love, joy, comfort and security.

As friends, we share life’s journey, the good and the bad, and love each other nonetheless. Having someone you trust to talk with, to share your laughter and tears, and to just be there is one of life’s greatest gifts. In addition to the emotional peace positive friendships offer, they also can improve your health and wellbeing.

Having good friends can:

  • Increase happiness and joy
  • Provide a greater sense of purpose and belonging
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve your feelings of strength and self-esteem
  • Help you cope with trauma and loss
  • Decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Encourage healthy habits, such as exercise, laughter and eating well

Research has shown that having friends may help you deal with pain, stress and illness in a positive manner. While family connections are also vital, the connections we have with friends are often different than the relationships we have with family.

With this in mind, nurture your friendships. Keep in close contact with those friends who support you in the best way possible. Don't worry if you've lost touch for a while — many times old friends will understand and support you even if a few months or years have passed. Investing in new friends and strengthening friendships may help you handle stress and illness while bringing you better quality of life in return.

We would love to hear how friends have helped support you and the benefits you have received from their care.

What a great post! I just love the concept of friendship and more than the concept, I just love those who are my friends!

Some friends I visit with only online, such as on Mayo Connect. While others I get together with regularly in person, for meals, church worship, share concerts, book discussions, traveling and the sharing of personal faith, struggles and dreams. To have friends is to have treasures. These treasures do not require a bank account but only regular deposits of time, conversation and the openness to share life's experiences.

From some of my friends, I receive the gift of loyalty, support and strength. With some friendships I give back the gift of loyalty, support and strength. In whatever way the friendship manifests itself, it becomes a win-win situation for all.

Teresa

You can never have too many friends!

During my wife's extended battle with brain cancer, many abandoned her, but two friends made those years better. They were not the two friends we expected either! One was an old friend of my wife's from her junior high days and mine was a former colleague! They reappeared in our lives and made a huge difference to both my wife and me.

Great topic and thanks for this post!

@IndianaScott Yes, those friends who stand with you in the midst of difficult times are tremendous gifts!

@IndianaScott

During my wife's extended battle with brain cancer, many abandoned her, but two friends made those years better. They were not the two friends we expected either! One was an old friend of my wife's from her junior high days and mine was a former colleague! They reappeared in our lives and made a huge difference to both my wife and me.

Great topic and thanks for this post!

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Those had to have been challenging years and I am grateful those two friends reappeared and provided comfort and friendship to you both! Thank you for sharing!

@hopeful33250

What a great post! I just love the concept of friendship and more than the concept, I just love those who are my friends!

Some friends I visit with only online, such as on Mayo Connect. While others I get together with regularly in person, for meals, church worship, share concerts, book discussions, traveling and the sharing of personal faith, struggles and dreams. To have friends is to have treasures. These treasures do not require a bank account but only regular deposits of time, conversation and the openness to share life's experiences.

From some of my friends, I receive the gift of loyalty, support and strength. With some friendships I give back the gift of loyalty, support and strength. In whatever way the friendship manifests itself, it becomes a win-win situation for all.

Teresa

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Well said! I like that you pointed out these special connections don't have to be in-person either! Many friendships span large distances and those are just as meaningful. Thank you for taking the time to share!

@user_cha272278

You can never have too many friends!

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So true!

It is not the number of friends one has it is the ones that show up when needed. Thank God for those two that did.

@hogan_g1937

It is not the number of friends one has it is the ones that show up when needed. Thank God for those two that did.

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Yes

 

 

When I was growing up I did not really know what a friend was. I am one of the few people who when to a one room country school for 9 years. I knew I would not be staying around, nor moving less than 30 miles from home or being married to a farmer. So I did not have any real friends in grade school, high school or even college. I just wanted to get out of town. After two failed marriages and moving around I finally settled down. In the last 40 years I have made some wonderful friends. When I had my kidney transplant the hospital room was so full of friends I just wanted them to all leave so I could get some sleep, but I did not ask them to leave. When I had my ostomy surgery and a friend who was in the early stages of her Parkinson's disease insisted she be taken to see me, there was so much love in that room it was bouncing off the walls. That was the last time we were able to see each other, she has gone down hill and does not know me but that does not mean I do not love her and visit when I can. When I had my 2 strokes, I have no idea how many people came to the hospital to see me, but it was a lot. When I was discharged and the doctors did not know if I needed Hospice or Palliative Care, I fooled them. Between lots of prayers and friends as well as out of state relatives visiting me I am living by myself and doing very well. I do not drive, my choice, but I have friends who take me where I need to go. (I drove friends before my strokes.) The old saying goes something like this, you never know who your real friends are until you need them and they are not who you thought they would be. Good luck with your friends.

mlmcg

@mlmcg

When I was growing up I did not really know what a friend was. I am one of the few people who when to a one room country school for 9 years. I knew I would not be staying around, nor moving less than 30 miles from home or being married to a farmer. So I did not have any real friends in grade school, high school or even college. I just wanted to get out of town. After two failed marriages and moving around I finally settled down. In the last 40 years I have made some wonderful friends. When I had my kidney transplant the hospital room was so full of friends I just wanted them to all leave so I could get some sleep, but I did not ask them to leave. When I had my ostomy surgery and a friend who was in the early stages of her Parkinson's disease insisted she be taken to see me, there was so much love in that room it was bouncing off the walls. That was the last time we were able to see each other, she has gone down hill and does not know me but that does not mean I do not love her and visit when I can. When I had my 2 strokes, I have no idea how many people came to the hospital to see me, but it was a lot. When I was discharged and the doctors did not know if I needed Hospice or Palliative Care, I fooled them. Between lots of prayers and friends as well as out of state relatives visiting me I am living by myself and doing very well. I do not drive, my choice, but I have friends who take me where I need to go. (I drove friends before my strokes.) The old saying goes something like this, you never know who your real friends are until you need them and they are not who you thought they would be. Good luck with your friends.

mlmcg

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You never really know what wonderful friends you have until tragedy hits. My dad became a quadriplegic thanks to a drunk driver and was sent to Phoenix for 7 months. We lived in central California. After we returned home we found out what fantastic friends my dad had. For the next 16 years all his friends visited him often, not one ever forsook him which I find unusual. I think the devotion of all his friends meant more to him than anything else ever could.

@jakedduck1 Hi Leonard:

Your dad was certainly blessed. He must have made lots of deposits in his friendship account during his lifetime!

Teresa

Hello. What a great community! Thanks for sharing. I would be grateful for tips on how someone can avoid compassion fatigue as a caregiver for a close relative. This close relative – was recently diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Here is a small resource trying to provide some general stress management tips.

Thank you! This has been a challenge for me recently, as I have moved close to retirement. Over the years, I have had some wonderful friends, particularly in work settings. With relocations, you stay in touch, but long distance, and as you age, priorities and relationships change. For the past 9 1/2 years, I have commuted to work 40 minutes each way to/from a resort setting. Jobs have been scarce in my County, so it was a necessity. The resort is not a good place to make long-distance friends; my family goes to church in yet another town 25 miles from home, as we make up a large part of the praise band there (though it is difficult for me to make it to events there during the week, because of where I work); and my husband of 46 years is a good man, but not very outgoing, other than his band activity, and he is 8 years my senior. All that being said, I have somewhat faded from my home community, and time constraints keep me from being involved there. For years, I spent time with my mother after work, seeing that she was cared for, but she passed away in 2015. I miss her so! Now…all that being said, my husband and I have rekindled our relationship with a couple we knew in another place right after we got married. I worked with her, and we went out together on occasion back then. Now we live about 150-200 miles apart. We have begun alternately selecting a restaurant somewhere between our two homes to meet on a Saturday every few weeks. We are not rushed, and we have fun catching up! We love them, and we so appreciate our time together! Hopefully, we can begin doing this with other old and cherished friends at some point. I am hoping that, upon retirement (within the year), I will be able to reintroduce myself to my community, pick up on some hobbies I might share with others, and have more time for day trips, etc., where I can at least get out of the "routine" to which I have become accustomed. I love being with others….not just rushing from one place to another! To finish, let me say that I so appreciate this opportunity to vent and share! God bless us every one!

Hello @lovetoall

I appreciate your comments and as I see this is your first post, let me welcome you!

In the face of location moves, retirement and the aging process many people have a hard time making friends at this time of life. I like what you said about,

"I am hoping that, upon retirement (within the year), I will be able to reintroduce myself to my community, pick up on some hobbies I might share with others, and have more time for day trips, etc., where I can at least get out of the "routine" to which I have become accustomed. I love being with others….not just rushing from one place to another!"

It is good to see that you are looking forward to the future with a renewed commitment to forging and forming new friendships and being active in those things you have enjoyed.

I am glad that you found Connect and are helped by having a place to, as you said, "this opportunity to vent and share!" Please continue to share as you feel comfortable doing so!

Teresa

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