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How to Help a Friend With Cancer


Posted on 6/18/2012 by Cate Conroy

How to Help a Friend with Cancer

Oftentimes the most valuable thing you can offer a friend battling cancer is your friendship- simply being present can be an extraordinary gift and provide those facing the illness new found comfort. Below is amazing advice on “how to help a friend with cancer” from cancer survivor Elise Silverfield. In Elise’s own words, “I am a two-time cancer survivor and am determined not to let my illnesses define me. My greatest joy is being a mom to my amazing teenage son.”

Supporting A Friend With Cancer

At some point, most of us will have a conversation with a close friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. You’ll want to be there to help, but you may not know what to do. Rest assured, there is no right or wrong way to offer support.

Of course, there are dinners to organize, carpools to arrange, and shopping to do. However, you want to do more. What would really be a big help to your friend? Lots of people say, “Just let me know what I can do.” While they mean well, most of us (myself included) have a hard time asking for help.

I have fought this dreaded disease twice and have had wonderful support from friends both times. While I appreciated everything, there were a couple of things that really meant a lot.

While in the hospital, my girlfriends brought me a gift bag filled with scented lotion, fluffy socks, disposable toothbrushes, lip balm, and more. While one friend brushed my hair, another massaged my hands and feet with the lotion and painted my nails. It really is true that when you look good, you feel better. Bringing that little bit of comfort and femininity to the hospital really raised my spirits.

Probably the most amazing thing my friends did for me was to start a fundraiser. Even though I have insurance, the out of pocket expenses were staggering. Knowing I would never ask, my friends took it upon themselves to help with my medical bills.

GiveForward accepts donations of any amount, and every dollar adds up. My friends sent out mass emails and posted on social media to educate people about their goal. They made the effort creative by doing things such as asking people to skip their daily cup of Starbucks and donate that money instead. I was beyond touched by the outpouring of support I received. At first, I was slightly upset when I first learned of the fundraiser, but I quickly realized that I would do the exact same thing for any of my friends if the situation were reversed.

Most people never think of the financial strain a cancer diagnosis brings. That said, GiveForward is a great way of helping a friend with cancer because it lessens the financial and emotional burden the disease often causes. Even if friends or family can’t donate money, people can log on, give a “hug,” and share supporting thoughts. I am grateful beyond words for the generosity I was shown, and I hope I can one day return the favor.

Whether you provide comfort in the hospital, monetary support, or something else, the main thing is to support your friend. From the day a cancer patient is diagnosed, they become a SURVIVOR. Remind them of this on the tough days and celebrate with them on the good days. Your friendship, love, and support will truly be a blessing.

For more ideas on how to help a friend with cancer, visit our Help for Cancer Patients resource page.

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