Another doctor talked about cancer becoming more of a chronic disease...meaning that there are now treatments and management regimes to help people diagnosed lead long, relatively normal, healthy lives. If diagnosed early (and that is a fairly critical component) many cancers can be treated, and are no longer the automatic death sentences they once were.
No matter what the type of cancer, or the prescribed treatment, there are many people impacted by the diagnosis, including YOU ...as a husband, wife, son, daughter, cousin, uncle, aunt, friend, and or lover. And there are ways you can help make this a little, and sometimes a lot, easier when the going gets tough.
And believe me, there are times when it will be tough.
1. First, and foremost. Listen to what you're being told. And don't deny what you are hearing. When someone is telling you about their diagnosis, it's not about you.
2. A warming hug, and a simple "I'm here to help you, with whatever you need" statement is more important than denials, questions about the diagnosis, or dismissal as crazy. While doing that kind of stuff, you may think you're showing support and love. But you're not -you're showing your own shock and dismay. And it's not your turn. It's your turn to comfort, to have and to hold. (All the questions and validations of information will come later...all part of the train ride.)
3. Be there. Simple smiles, hugs, and genuine support. If it's within your realm, offer to help and be an advocate...attend medical meetings, take notes, ask questions..your pal with cancer is likely off in la la land, worried about surviving til the next day, and not likely to be taking in all of the information that they'll be given. Being an advocate is a tremendous help.
4. When it is right to do so...you'll know because you'll recognize that quiet moment and the unspoken question...talk about how you feel about what's happening. It's ok to say it's all quite frightening...but don't go into great detail about the fact that you're scared to death too. Pillar of strength...not a foam noodle.
Into the Thick of It...When the Going Gets Tough
5. Little things are the important things. If you're making lots of trips to clinics or hospitals for treatments, carry along some great music and remember the ear buds. Bring some little sweet treats. A bit of good chocolate. Some nice hand cream, whatever ...just make it small, simple, sincere and heartfelt.. tiny gestures to help ease the journey.