Happy 10 Years Cancer-Free to Me! Plus 10 Hints for if a Dear One has Cancer

Photo of a doll
When bald is charming!

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, I’m good now. I seriously can’t image how I would have coped without the kindness of family, friends, and big hearted strangers.

Ever wonder what to do when someone you care about encounters the Cancer Monster? Let these ten hints be a start…

  1. Good intentions are e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
  2. Be there: visit (call first), write, phone. Don’t take it personally if your dear one can’t find the words to reply quickly.
  3. Listen to them. Soak in what they have to say clear down to your brain cells.
  4. Have fun! Even if they’re stuck in bed, laughter is the best medicine!
  5. Let them vent. Hell, you can vent at the injustice of it all right along with them.
  6. Remind them that they’re resourceful, strong, and courageous. Be that way yourself, at least in front of them.
  7. Do they need help? Ask, ask, ask! Do they need a ride? Do they have plenty of groceries, clean clothes, or is their place tidy? Or do they need you to drop the C-bomb on family and friends for them? How about negotiating doctors and insurance companies? Could they use help creating an easy system for navigating medications and such?
  8. Most people hate being burdens. Be sincere with your dear one as well as yourself. Don’t overextend. You need to be there for the long haul.
  9. Be a source of hope. Save your anxiety and morbid stories about people who died of cancer for others. Scour grim words like ‘remission’ out of your vocabulary. Ditto for any others that hint at waiting for the other shoe to fall.
  10. Let them do what they need to do. Leave judging for their doctors. As a friend, your job is to stick around and add happiness to their life.

Got more tips to share?

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75 thoughts on “Happy 10 Years Cancer-Free to Me! Plus 10 Hints for if a Dear One has Cancer

  1. I really appreciate this. Sometimes you aren’t really sure of the best way to be supportive. These guidelines really help put me in the right direction.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had friends that had cancer and I was at a loss as to how to be of help. Instead of stepping up I would hide behind my inability. Now that I have gone through cancer and have seen how others came to me, I understand how any gesture to reach out is a wonderful gift to receive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on being cancer free for ten years! 🙂

    One of my friends is in the middle of chemo treatments again. What I do is let her lead the way: I don’t push for stories or answers, I try to be there when she needs me and when I visit her I let her speak and give direction to our talks. When she’s done talking about herself I try to distract her mind with talking about me or the silly things that happened in my life. When I asked her what I can do for her, as I felt so useless, she only said: “Just be there when I need you.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Dear Samantha, your site is so fun (hint to all to visit it!) that I am certain that you are a delight – someone I would definitely appreciate being around any time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Daal. I think we would get along great, judging from your website and your ever kind words and positive spirit. I hope in ten years I can congratulate you on being cancer free for twenty years! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I’m impressed with your post and really pleased you are able to say “I’ve had Cancer”.., well, not pleased you had it, pleased you have come through it and can say it….err…I’m sure you know what I mean yes?? I’ve been touched by it through friends and family. I’ve never done anything, but what you suggest in this thoughtful post. I would also add if it’s friends or family to also keep an eye on the partner or immediate family members too. They can be the fallout victims that need to talk about things they can’t with the afflicted person because they are doing the support work for the sufferer. It’s a tough situation to deal with on all fronts. X

    Liked by 1 person

      • Whilst not directly influence by cancer (although I’ve lost a few friends to it) my mother had motor neurone disease. It affected me greatly for obvious reasons and I don’t recall anyone ever asking me if I was OK. It stuck with me for a long time, which is why now I will never not ask spouses or siblings how they are, lend an ear or help. It’s a very isolating experience having to be positive when inside its all going pear shaped. Don’t worry either…as long as folk read the comments we’re good to go!
        Actually, it’s interesting that between us we’ve completed the circle….you from first hand going through it and me from the other side watching a parent and very close friend. I wonder if I’d written a post like this I might have swayed heavily on my view of it from the outside. Both messages are important though…especially if it’s, as you say, new to people. In fact if they can buddy up with people who’ve experienced it then that would help in the isolation.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Gary! I couldn’t help but comment when I saw this. I too long for people to be more compassionate when dealing with others who are struggling. It can be the ray of sunshine in a dark room.

          ‘ I don’t recall anyone ever asking me if I was OK. It stuck with me for a long time, which is why now I will never not ask spouses or siblings how they are, lend an ear or help.’

          – your words really resonated with me.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Hi Marie, thanks for that. It’s a difficult topic for many people to openly discuss. On all levels of terminal, or potentially terminal conditions there is never just one victim. I’ve seen depression hit those around the sufferer purely because thy have no-one to turn to; just to say how they feel bad talk bout things that they’d never say directly to the patient. Sadly, for many, that realisation doesn’t happen until they experience something that rocks their world. I might revisit this topic in May on a kindness/mindfulness challenge that I’m signed up for. Making people more aware of the impacts of things like this is pretty important to me. Really appreciate your comment too!

            Liked by 2 people

            • You are welcome Gary. It is important to support and befriend others in their time of need. I am not sure why it is that some people find it difficult to be around others who are suffering or are facing challenging situations. I guess people feel uncomfortable because they feel they might say the wrong thing, or that they cannot think of anything to say at all. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything, just being there is a great comfort for those who are suffering.
              I listened to a radio programme recently where they were talking about friendship and chronic illness. One person said that when the ‘friend’ found out she was ill, the friend avoided her, and at one point, crossed the road when she saw her coming when they were about to meet walking along the road!

              Liked by 2 people

              • I try not to judge (too much) people about how they do friendship. Everyone reacts differently.

                Some people I never see or hear from reached out, which is nice, but I wished they were fair weather friends too.

                Others faded away, so I wished they were fowl weather friends.

                I could waste away many hours speculating why…

                Instead, I prefer to dwell in gratitude for on how friends appear at different times of my life.

                Sort of like that song that says, “if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.” If I allow myself to get caught up in what I don’t have, then I miss appreciating what I do have.

                Liked by 1 person

              • The psyche of minds is something I write about in novels. I’ve “interviewed” quite a few people and drawn on my own experience when developing characters that have MH issues. The reasons people avoid chronic illness are quite broad. I use the word avoid rather than shun because I don’t think in most cases it’s that people don’t want to lose a friendship (although that’s more often than not what happens as a result). A lot of people are unable to deal with seeing someone decline in health. It disturbs them so they block it out. Not knowing what to say is top of the list. Feeling guilty they don’t go drops in at second. Combine the two and time drifts and then they feel uncomfortable about going to to see them. Partners of the patient get bitter and think nobody cares and the cycle polarises people. Each reinforcing their own beliefs of why not to go, or why nobody is visiting. Some people who have directly experienced it can’t face seeing it again because it brings back painful memories and anxiety too. I agree with what you’ve said as that’s part of the equation above. The but that I find sad is later everyone will regret no going. I also feel sometimes people give space expecting the direct relatives to get in touch rather than just drop in. People seem to forget that before the illness the communication rolled both ways at random. It took me a long time to collect my thoughts after both my parents died through non-natural causes (for want of a better expression). I know in the two years after I would have avoided other people because I was annoyed nobody asked me how I was and the process of dealing with it didn’t “need” further issues. In effect I had to sort my own head out first. However, now I have extreme empathy for people in bad situations. I’ve used my own experience to think “Hang about, I know what nobody asking feels like so I’m NOT going to repeat that when other people need support.” I now see people suffering not as something to avoid, but friends that are still friends, but going through a hard time. That is my focuss. Friends or mates….you step up to the plate when they need help. That said, I can understand how other people might fear it. Maybe if you’ve gone through it then it changes your outlook and you are more likely not to cross the road, but go say hi. I think if more people talked about chronic illness and not just what it does, but how it affects people’s minds then some if the stigmas and fears would ease back. Whenever I’ve popped round the general conversations have been very good. Most want to see familiar faces and just talk about stuff rather than what they are going through. Often just being there lets the partner bug out for an hour too. Just go out for a coffee or something to escape what often turns into a personal prison watching someone you love decline. I’m not sure my reply here really justifies what I’m trying to say.!

                Liked by 2 people

  5. Congratulations dear Daal! I am glad a powerful beautiful soul like you beat this for already 10 years…
    What do you do, if someone is in denial about the seriousness of having an aggressive form of cancer?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Daal (ing)! Sorry, but I had to use that ‘offending’ term, because I care so much. I’m so happy that you are 10 years cancer-free dearest Daal. Continue to thrive and prosper!

    Those 10 tips are so helpful and could be used in a lot of other circumstances (which I won’t name here) as they are flexible (fitting other situations), and relatively easy to do. Thanks for compiling them and will definitely refer to them whenever I need to.

    Thank you for sharing – you’re pretty awesome! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 10 years…fantastic. Love the top 10 tips. For me the hardest has been to ask. My wonderful friends have recognised this trait and just ‘done ‘ things, for which I am so grateful . Looking forward to being able to say I am 10 years clear. By then you will be 20 years clear 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • big smiles back!

      kindness is always fabulous. when loved ones ask what I’d like them to do or they give me a selection, its extra good – that way it ends up being something I really need & want.

      I, among a lot of other people, like to do nice things & feel of use. Sometimes we all need a bit of assistance as to how to go about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations! That’s wonderful! I think most families nowadays probably have experience of cancer somewhere in their family and relatives. It’s always such a hopeful thing to hear of someone recovering completely and staying free of it afterwards.

    Liked by 2 people

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