How to Support Your Local Cancer Patient

Last week I did the obligatory, “what to say” post and today it is time for the obligatory, “how to support a cancer patient post.”  All the highly rated blogs do it and last week I had over ten people read mine so I figure I’ve got to keep up with the main stream.  Who knows, maybe twelve people will read this blog next week.

So how do you support a cancer patient?  Hum, I don’t like that question.  I do have cancer but I am not a patient. Well not in the sense that I am in a hospital with IV’s in my arm, wires stuck to my chest and an O2 line shoved up my nose.

Let’s try a different question:

How do you support a family member or friend that has cancer?

I like that better.

I’d like to give you the definitive list.  The list that you’ll quote to all your friends.  The list that is so complete that it will be the basis of my best selling book.

If you thought I had that list you clearly don’t know me.  The problem is beyond my brain to solve or even give good advice on. All I do know is that if you act out of a caring heart and a desire to truly be helpful and supporting to your friend you’ll do just fine.

Yeah, but you still want a list, don’t you?  Okay here is my incomplete and possibly missing the whole point list of how to support your family member, friend and/or person you meet in line at the grocery store who has cancer.

  • Understand what support really is.
  • Don’t forget about them.
  • Remember that cancer is not contagious and it’s okay to be in the same room.
  • Call, write, send email, write Facebook messages, whatever you normally do – they’re still the person you’ve always known.
  • Go ahead and make plans to do something – a meal out, a movie, a party – just be flexible in case plans need to change at the last minute.
  • Make something for them.  You know with your own hands. Got a hobby or something you like to do.  Well your friend will like it too.

Not a very good list is it? That’s the problem with this ‘thing’ – there is no one size fits all list.  What you should do depends on a number of factors that are sometimes too complex.  Even harder for me since I’d like to give a detailed list that covers all angles.

So rather than a really good list of what you “should do” I’ll tell you about a few of the things I’ve received.

A friend gave me a Kermit the Fog blanket.  Kermit is my hero and my role model.  My leadership style is based on his life. Now I have his image to warm my feet.

The prayer shawl ministry group at church is knitting me a shawl.  Yup the kind that keeps you warm.  This group knits the shawl and prays for healing for the receiver. It is a strange and good feeling to know that a group of people is actively praying for you.

Game night.  Shortly after I told some close friends about my cancer they asked, “What can we do?”  I replied, “Game night.”  My wife and I get together this other couple and have dinner, talk, and play a board game.  Currently we’re stuck on a game call, “Ticket to Ride.”

Readers of my blog.  Okay I’ll admit that I need an audience. The day after I post something new I check the counter to see how many times it was downloaded.  It may seem small but to know that others take the time to even just click is important to me.

Warm socks.  Nothing better than warm socks which my wife went to REI to buy for me.  Really, socks.  Trust me when you’re walking around the clinic with no pants on – warm socks mean a lot.

My wife.  No man could have better support than my wife.  She’s the best.  Since we learned of this cancer she’s been right there.  Reading the information, going to the appointments, talking to the doctors and buying socks.  When I first learned I needed to travel this road she said, “We’re in this together.”

And we have been and will be.

She’s stepped in to take over things I can’t do at the moment.  She’s adjusted her schedule to be there when I need her.  She is the reason that I can keep doing this treatment and work full time. She lets me do what I can but when I can’t she is ready to take over.  We talk.  We made the decisions together. We’ve had our rough spots but this is a team effort.  When one is weak the other helps.

The list of all she’s done would take several pages.

The one thing I wish I could do is to support her better.  I know that it’s hard on her and that I am not always the easiest person to help.

So what can you do to support a prostate cancer patient?  Find his wife and see what you can do for her.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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2 Responses to How to Support Your Local Cancer Patient

  1. Mike M. says:

    Thanks for allowing me into your world. BTW I’m 3 years cancer free, however I had surgery as mine was a little different than yours– so I should not have a psa reading but last check and it was 1.88 up from 1.8– 3 months earlier so I’m off to see a new radiation oncologist tomorrow 1-23-13 ( I moved to new town hence new doctors) as they think they may have either not gotten it all 3 years ago, or Dr said “perhaps it has metastasized so we need to begin some “new testing”…”just to rule out things”. “Don’t let this ruin your day”.. If you like I’ll keep you posted…


    • Andrew says:

      Sorry you need to get more testing. The thought of having to have more treatments isn’t a nice one. It’s really a problem with all treatments – you can’t be 100% sure they got every the first time. Hang in there and keep me updated on your progress.


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