What are the best ways for me to help a good friend who was just diagnosed with cancer?

Friends and family members of a cancer patient often want to help, but are not sure how and the patient may not know what sort of help the person is willing to give. It is sometimes hard for the patient to ask for help, even when it has been offered, so it is best to give specific suggestions of things you are willing to do.

The following are practical ways you can help:

  • Drive the person to and from appointments.
  • Cook and deliver nutritious meals.
  • Help with house or yard work.
  • Offer to do their grocery or other shopping.
  • Be an advocate and find support groups or educational resources.
  • Pick up books/DVDs from the library.
  • Offer to babysit any children if necessary.
  • Be present.
  • Listen.

Make sure you are willing and able to provide the help you are suggesting. Take time to consider what you are realistically able to do. Adding a specific time can also be helpful. For instance, you can say, “I’d like to handle the grocery shopping for you this week. Would Monday work for you?” Remember that your friend might be in treatment for some time and while many people offer support right after diagnosis, the help might diminish as time passes. Sometimes a cancer patient needs more help later on during treatment, so it is important that you keep in touch with your friend and continue to provide what support you can.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

For Caregivers, Family and Friends – National Cancer Institute

cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/familyfriends

What Can I Say to a Newly Diagnosed Loved One - CancerCare

cancercare.org/pdf/fact_sheets/fs_loved_one.pdf

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.