Living with cancer blog

Friendships and living with cancer

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. June 10, 2014

Many times, people will ask, how can I be a friend to someone diagnosed with cancer?

Recently, I was talking with a group of cancer survivors about how friends had touched them during the process of living with a diagnosis of cancer. The conversation we had was really powerful.

One of the women in the group told me that she felt like her friends were co-survivors because so many of them had been through a cancer diagnosis as well.

She said that they would frequently send or drop of comfort items to her before her chemotherapy appointments — such as herbal teas and ginger cookies, fuzzy slippers and a cozy sweater so that she would stay warm during and after her treatment.

She also mentioned that one friend always sent her a little text message of encouragement on the day of treatment. She said that because they had also been through treatment, they understood and anticipated what she needed.

Another woman said she felt the love and support of her friends as they took turns driving her to her appointments and hung out with her as she received her chemotherapy.

She said that she was so touched by the fact that they were willing to go out of their way to arrange their life schedule to be with her and support her during her appointments. She said it helped pass the time and gave them a little glimpse of what life was like for her.

One of the men mentioned that he felt guilty because he was so focused on his own life during that period of treatment that he had lost touch with a few of his friends. He was unsure how to make the first move.

We talked about how to reach out with a simple phone call. Suggestions were to schedule a coffee, lunch or golf date, or perhaps a visit to a local art center or museum that would shift the focus from his cancer diagnosis to more of a routine outing.

It's important to remember that sometimes friends may be afraid or anxious and may not want to bother you during your treatment. Many times, if you make the first move, they will be reassured that you want company.

These are just a few examples of how important friendship is to you during your experiences. I'm sure that many of you have other great stories you'd like to share. Please tell me about how your friends support you.

With

Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

Jun. 10, 2014