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Sunday, February 10, 2013

What to do if someone has cancer

Cancer Defeated Publications

What to Do if Someone
You Love Has Cancer

    Back in Issue 250, I talked about what to do if you get a cancer diagnosis. It's a critical topic, given the life-changing nature of the disease.

    But it's just as important to know how to handle the cancer diagnosis of a friend or a family member. What should you do, or not do? How can you help without offending? What should you say (or not say)?

    Read on for some of the best approaches, in my experience, for helping someone else fight cancer.

Continued below. . .

Oliver was doomed to die from cancer
within 8 hours --
But then he found out what to do. . .
    Oliver had reached the end of the road in his seven-year fight against cancer. His doctors didn't think this 32-year-old man would live through the night.

    But when I talked to Oliver six years later, he was the picture of health! He got rid of his cancer completely.

    Yes, Oliver found the answer — his own cancer miracle.

    I sat down with him and his doctor and they told me an incredible story. . . a story that could help save you or someone you love from this dreaded disease.

    If you'd like to hear it, click here now.

Cancer ALWAYS goes beyond the person diagnosed
    The first thing you've got to remember is that EVERYONE is affected by a cancer diagnosis. It's not just about the person fighting the disease. Caregivers, friends, and family members of someone battling cancer also cope with emotional and physical challenges.

    Of course, they are also the very people who can provide the best support to a cancer sufferer. Now, I'll admit that communicating with the people we love most can be tough, even in the best of times. Throw cancer into the picture and you have a whole new level of deep emotions and concerns to deal with.

    The most important thing is to not get scared you'll say or do the wrong thing. Sometimes the best approach is just to lend a sympathetic ear. That sort of emotional support is crucial for helping a cancer sufferer stave off the anxiety and stress they feel after a diagnosis.

    To be honest, keeping the relationship normal is about the best thing you can do. Here are some tips on how to do that:
  1. Start by preparing yourself. In general, cancer sufferers won't want to spend hours discussing their diagnosis. It's too emotionally draining. If they do want to talk, by all means — talk. But take the time to learn as much as you can on your own about the details of someone's cancer. Reach out to their spouse or a mutual friend to make sure you have all your facts straight. If certain details aren't known, don't push for more.
  2. Ask first. Ask before you pay a visit, before you give advice, and before you request details about someone's cancer treatment. Make sure they feel comfortable saying "no."
  3. Be ready for changes in appearance. Weight changes and fatigue are common in cancer. Hair loss is one of the most noticeable effects, if the person is undergoing chemotherapy. The best route is to not to comment on physical changes at all. Just tell your friend or family member how happy you are to see them.
  4. Don't hesitate to make plans for the future. It gives a cancer sufferer something to look forward to.
  5. Welcome emotions. Don't ignore feelings of sadness, but make sure you allow for fun and humor when you visit someone facing a diagnosis.
  6. Don't let someone's cancer become the elephant in the room. Talk about it if they're willing, but don't let it steer your relationship. Treat them the same way you always have.
  7. If you're related to the person, don't turn the conversation to your own risk levels. Don't talk about the risk their children might be facing, either.
  8. Keep in touch. Call or write emails. Send letters or care packages. About the worst thing you can do is lose touch with someone because you don't know what to say. A simple "I'm thinking of you" is all it takes.
    If you have additional ideas or you disagree with the ones above, let us know by emailing or post a comment on our Facebook page.
The two most important things you can do
    Be honest here — most of us don't like to ask for help. Cancer patients are no different. So don't wait for someone to ask. Make an offer. Be specific about it, too. Instead of saying, "Can I do anything for you?" ask if you can bring a meal over, or take care of kids or pets.

    You can also shop for groceries, pick up prescriptions, water plants, mow the lawn, or drive them to a support group meeting. Or to a treatment session. In short, make an offer that can't be refused.

    I know a young family who says they've hardly cooked a meal since the wife's breast cancer diagnosis. Their neighbors got together and bring them meals — usually things that last for a few days and can be reheated to provide several meals. They've also received a lot of volunteer help in looking after their young children.

    The second most important thing you can do is to help with the financial side of cancer. There's no way around it — cancer is expensive. But, it can be awkward to give someone money directly (awkward for them to accept it, too).

    A better option is to give a gift card to the grocery store or a store like Target. Or spring for a housecleaning service, or a therapeutic treatment like massage or acupuncture. Many massage therapists and other types of therapists will be happy to provide a gift card entitling your friend or relative to treatments.

    A newer approach to helping someone deal with the financial strain of cancer is to set up a fundraising page. Crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo make it easy for anyone to raise money for any purpose. Kickstarter and GoFundMe are other popular options. Just set up a page that tells the story of the person you're raising money for, set a money goal, and then share the page with other friends and family members. They can donate online using credit cards.

    There's usually a small fee of 4 or 5 percent off your fundraising goal, but funds are disbursed just two weeks after the campaign is over (and you set the deadline).
Help them incorporate alternative treatments
    One of the most valuable things you could possibly do for someone with cancer is to be their advocate. That means you go to all their doctor's appointments with them, help them weigh the pros and cons of different treatment options, and essentially stay by their side throughout their cancer battle. This is usually appropriate if you're very close to the person battling cancer.

    If you're a little more removed from them, or if they already have an advocate, there are plenty of other supportive roles you can play.

    A really important role is to serve as someone's exercise partner. Exercise gives cancer patients both physical and emotional benefits, like reducing stress, improving sleep patterns and helping with fatigue, as well as boosting mood. It can be as simple as a daily walk around the block. Just make sure they get signoff from their healthcare team.

    Other good exercise options are weight lifting to help build muscle — important because patients often lose muscle (and gain fat) during cancer treatment. And then there's aerobic exercise, like running or swimming, which helps with cardiovascular fitness and burns extra calories. Flexibility exercises like stretching or yoga help a cancer patient maintain mobility.

    On a different note, regular care packages go a long way in helping a cancer victim through treatment. Send things like funny DVDs — I'm a fan of classics like Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges. Vibrant flowers or live plants are also a nice option. Here's a vital tip, though: When you send gifts or packages, make it clear that no "thank you" is expected. You can be sure a cancer sufferer will appreciate every act of kindness they get, but that person may not be up to writing thank you cards or even making phone calls.

    Another really valuable approach is to help educate them about supportive treatment and alternative therapies. But you have to tread lightly here. Very few people want unsolicited advice, even from their closest friends and relatives. If you know the patient is receptive to alternative health in general, then you might find a way to tactfully suggest some helpful supplements or eating plans.

    You should never push a treatment on someone — they have to want it. But, as our weekly newsletters testify, there are hundreds of excellent complementary approaches for people battling cancer … and it takes work to research and understand them. So, offer to do the work for them.
Don't let the disease define the person
    Cancer is a game-changer, absolutely, but under every awful diagnosis is a person. Maybe that person is your friend, or brother, or daughter, or parent. Don't forget that.

    A lot of cancer survivors report they found out who their real friends were after they got cancer. That was when the people who really cared stood out from the ones who never called, never expressed their sympathy, suddenly lost touch, or just dismissed the cancer sufferer's fears.

    At the same time, if you're a caregiver to someone with cancer, or very close to a cancer sufferer, you're bound to face some stress. Make absolutely sure you take good care of yourself so you can be at 100% when the person you're caring for needs you. Check out resources like thePeer Support Network, which connects caregivers with others who've faced similar experiences.

    Or, try online tools like Lotsa Helping Hands, which makes it easy to coordinate offers for help between other friends and family. It also lets you post updates as someone heals from cancer, which saves them the hassle of having the same conversation multiple times with concerned friends and family members.

    The bottom line to all of this to just let someone know you're there and you care.

    I know of one treatment that ANYONE might agree to try, even if they reject alternative and integrative medicine. We wrote about it in the last issue. Scroll down and read it now if you missed it.

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