Top 5 tips for supporting someone with 'The Big C'
1. Frozen meals and 'working bee's' are a godsend. When you say 'Let me know if there is anything I can do' We probably won't. It's awkward asking or accepting help, so just go ahead ask if there is anything we can't eat as certain treatments may have food restrictions. I was to stay away from anything hot and spicy. Whip up a meal for the freezer, and leave it on the door step. Nothing fancy, if we are going through chemo we've probably lost our tastebuds and everything will taste metallic. Get a group of friends together and tell the person you will be at their house on Saturday afternoon at 2pm and they are to shout instructions from the couch only. Mow the lawn, walk the dog, fold the laundry, take their kids to the movies. You will probably have a baby named after you or end up in the will after doing that.
2. We are still the same old person! Please keep
talking to us about the dramas in your life too! Or
Married at First Sight, or how orange Donald
Trump is this week. Your dramas are just as
important to us as they ever have been too! Don't
compare, it's all relative.
3. No one knows the right thing to say to someone diagnosed with cancer. If you think it's hard reaching out to someone with cancer, try having cancer and not hearing from someone you're close to, it sucks. A simple 'I heard your news, that sucks! I'm thinking of you' meant the world to me. Tailor it to the person's personality. It's also OK to ask genuine questions about our cancer. If we don't want to talk about it we will soon change the subject to something worse like Donald Trump.
4. Please don't send links to a cure you came across online, or ask why they are doing chemo over the natural options or vice versa! If eating 10kg of kale a day and rolling in turmeric was scientifically proven to kill my cancer I'd be all over that in a heartbeat. I didn't choose chemo over turmeric because I wanted to know what I looked like bald. I personally chose every single hair in my body falling out (including nose hair!) because of my specific situation's survival statistics. Alternatively, if someone has chosen the natural approach, that will be the best course of action for their specific situation. We are all different!!! Not only that, but some treatments are not available to us in NZ. It's a kick in the guts when you read about medicines that could potentially save your life that will cost a Kiwi tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet are publicly funded in other countries.
5. Don't forget that our main support person needs support as well. Our nearest and dearest often end up the primary caregiver by default. Husband, wife, partners, parents, etc... keep an eye on them too. Take them out for a beer or lunch and spoil them fora couple of hours. They'll need someone to off load to!
Written by Rebecca van Dijk