September 15, 2008

Krasney’s Five

A girlfriend. A boyfriend. A best friend. A sib. I write a lot about stumbling around the healthcare world as a young adult cancer patient. But what if you are not the patient? How do those who support us from the sidelines dive into this experience and what is most useful for them to know? I came across some of the best advice ever from a blogger who goes by Krasney.

About Krasney: Native Texan turned Southern Californian turned Who-Knows-Where-She’ll-End-Up-Next resident of Life. Madly in love with a man who has cancer (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma). Tries her hardest to keep him smiling or at least comfortable and feeling loved. Former horse trainer, currently works in the psychotic world of the entertainment industry. When Hollywood isn’t making her crazy she’s gardening, traveling, laughing, getting another tattoo, writing or loving on her giant English Mastiff dog named Angus.

Krasney’s Five Pointers for Supporting Someone With Cancer

1. Keep a good attitude. I don’t mean be so positive they want to kill you, I mean be your normal, warm, loving, funny, fun self. They love you for a reason. Be that person.

2. Listen. A lot. To everything no matter how scary it is. And it will be. It will be terrifying, but the fear you feel won’t be half as terrifying as the fear that exists inside of them. So listen to all of it and respond when you can IF you can. And if you can’t respond tell them you don’t know how to respond. Then tell them that you love them.

3. Befriend the staff. At the hospital it is IMPERATIVE that you befriend the nurses, doctors, staff, EVERYONE. Even if you are only there for a day, it is so important that you make that staff want to help your friend/lover/sibling. Just by showing up with a smile, saying thank you, using their names and being courteous this is a huge way to get them on your side/your friends side. They will be more willing to listen to you and your friend, more willing to go out of their way to make him/her comfortable and more willing to go the extra mile when you aren’t there.

4. Be prepared. At the hospital I always have these things on me to make my life easier so I can help make his life easier: Unscented hand sanitizer, a book, a shawl (hospitals can get cold!), an inflatable travel pillow, something to write on and with (to take notes when talking with doctors), water and a camera.

5. Never wear perfume or scented stuff and watch being around cigarette smoke. Chemo/drugs etc makes patients highly sensitive to smells.

Krasney and I hope this short list helps.
What other tips or pointers do you have to add to it?

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  1. Heather Says:
    September 15th, 2008 at 9:22 PM

    this is excellent. a number of people i care about have/have had cancer, and sometimes it’s challenging to know how to support them. i’ve been reading up on this topic, and this is some of the best information i’ve found. thanks for posting!

  2. Lisa F. Says:
    September 15th, 2008 at 10:31 PM

    That’s a great list, particularly the first one. I often worry when I talk with friends about their cancer treatments/diagnoses and with friends who have other illnesses if I’m being upbeat enough. Then I worry that I’m trying too hard and am simply annoying. It’s a great reminder not to try so hard and just be a friend. Thanks for posting!

  3. Anonymous Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 9:45 AM

    sometimes i’m not sure whether to bring the issue up or not – i guess i try to get a sense for whether or not it is helpful, or stressful, to talk about their living with cancer or the latest in their adventures with it – thus, it seems like being open minded and willing to discuss, but not dwelling on it or necessarily bringing up the issues – this is sometimes a tricky act, but as with all (good) conversations, it’s a two-way street, and if you listen carefully, people sort of tell you where they would like to go

  4. Anonymous Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 10:15 AM

    I would add “ask questions.” Maybe this already falls under the blogger’s “listen” category. But so often friends and loved ones of people with cancer walk on tiptoe – scared to ask “how are you feeling?” “what’s are your doctors telling you?” “what are your treatments like?” At the same time, our friends living with cancer might want to talk about medical issues but feel self-conscious about discussing it too much for fear making their friends uncomfortable. So… ask about the hard stuff. It will be appreciated.

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