(BPT) - Learning a good friend or family member has been diagnosed with cancer can be shocking news. You want to do anything you can to help and support her, but it's difficult to know what to say and do.
Cancer patients with strong emotional support tend to have a more positive outlook and adjust better to the changes cancer treatment brings to their lives, according to cancer.org. You have the opportunity to be a part of that emotional support group and help bring about a better quality of life for your friend or family member.
With the emphasis on breast cancer awareness during October, it's a great time to think about how you can serve women with any kind of cancer. Here are some ideas for what you can do right now:
Give the gift of a clean home.One of the most beneficial things you can do to help are everyday tasks that get forgotten like grocery shopping or cleaning the house. Sometimes it's the unexpected that makes the biggest impact. Cleaning for a Reason is an organization that partners with professional residential maid services to provide free house cleanings to women battling cancer. With more than 1,200 local maid services in all 50 states, this organization helps women focus their energy on fighting cancer. 'Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a special time for our organization,' says Cleaning for a Reason founder Debbie Sardone. "Brands like Swiffer and Walmart help us spread the word so more women can receive this gift.'
Make plans.Spend time with your friend just like you did before cancer came into her life. Short, regular visits are always better than long, infrequent ones and always be sure to call ahead before your visit. Be flexible and understanding if your friend suddenly isn't feeling up to a visit.
Encourage other family members.People tend to focus solely on the cancer patient which puts their caregivers and family members on the back burner. These caregivers are under a lot of stress trying to cover both their existing roles and the new responsibilities of caring for someone who is sick. Offer to babysit the kids for a night or drive them to their after school activities. Don't forget to take time to ask how the rest of the family is doing.
Be careful with gifts of food.While cooking a meal or bringing over baked goods may seem like a good idea, your friend may have diet restrictions during her treatment. Cancer patients often have symptoms of nausea and vomiting, so always ask before you bring over a dish to share.
Maintain your support.Cancer patients need steady support throughout the entire process. It's easy to be there during the initial diagnosis, but it's the people who stick around that truly make a difference. Make an agreement with your friend group, church group or other organization to take turns offering support. Even if your friend turns down help, ask again every week or two, so it's clear you are always willing to be there for her.
Learn more about supporting a friend with cancer by visiting cleaningforareason.org and find the pink Swiffer product displays in Walmart stores throughout October.