By Christine Clifford, CSP
Most people when they hear that someone has cancer do not know what to say. They do not want to say they ”wrong” thing, so they often end up saying nothing. This causes the cancer patient to feel even more isolated and alone. A simple gesture and offer to help can be music to a cancer patient's ears.
People going through cancer treatment often feel they are not attractive due to hair loss, weight changes, problems with their complexions or just not feeling “up to par”. It is amazing what a compliment can do to lift one's spirits. Look the cancer patient in the eye and tell them they look GREAT! Call attention to the positive changes or just the fact that the patient has made an effort to get out of the house to go to a movie or meet you for lunch. You will be amazed at the positive reaction an encouraging word can bring. A smile on the face of a cancer patient will not only make their day… it will make yours, too.
When someone gives you a compliment while you are going through your treatment, take it as an acknowledgement that you really are doing a great job. It takes an effort to get up and face each day when you do not feel well or have lost the confidence in your appearance. And remember, the changes are usually temporary. One day soon, it will all be behind you.
You can't really be strong until you see the funny side of things.
-- Ken Kesey
Getting the proper rest and sleep is often a challenge for cancer patients. Fear and anxiety may cause sleepless nights. Treatments may induce insomnia. Pressures of chores and responsibilities may prevent a much-needed rest. Offer to “nap nanny”- come over to the patient's house and do whatever needs to be done to allow for peace and quiet. If children or pets are a problem, offer to take them to your house for the day or night. If chores need to be done, come over and iron, cook, clean, or do yard work while your friend rests comfortably. Bring a new pillow, a fresh set of sheets or a new pair of pajamas. Your friend or loved one will get some sleep, and you may find some time to dream, too.
If you feel tired and run-down, ask a friend to help you find the time to take a nap. Give a list of things your friend can do for you while you slumber. You will wake up rested and refreshed, and they will feel great that they have been able to help. Sweet dreams…
In our whole life melody the music is broken off here and there by
rests and we foolishly think we have come to the end of time. God
sends a time of forced leisure, a time of sickness and disappointed
plans, and makes a sudden pause in the hymns of our lives. Be it
ours to learn the time and not be dismayed at the rests.
-- John Ruskin
I am often asked: “What can I do for my dear friend (relative, loved one) with cancer? One of the most important days in the life of any cancer patient is that infamous last day of treatment. Whether if is the final treatment of radiation therapy or the very last chemotherapy, the day is anticipated with a mixture of joy, accomplishment, relief, sadness and fear.
Mark your calendar and make it a point of contacting the cancer patient to congratulate them and wish them well. A call, a card, or a bottle of champagne can go a long way toward telling your friend “You did it!”
Let your friends and family in on your final days of treatments. It is a day that will remain etched in your mind for many years to come. It is a grand accomplishment. Don't forget to laugh! ™
Christine Clifford , CSP is CEO/President of The Cancer Club, a company that markets humorous and helpful products for people with cancer (www.cancerclub.com ). She is the author of eight books including her newest book Laugh ' Til It Heals: Notes from the World's Funniest Cancer Mailbox and her best-seller Not Now... I'm Having a No Hair Day! Don't forget to laugh! ™
Email Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org
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