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?