Shelly Barnes: Thank you for being my friend

Shelly Barnes • Oct 1, 2018 at 9:28 PM

When the phone rings and a dear friend or loved one is on the other end and begins their conversation with, “I need to tell you something,” our world can spin out of control in a split second. 

With the diagnosis of cancer, many times as the friend, we aren’t sure what our new role should look like. Here are some suggestions from the American Cancer Society to show your support to a friend or loved one with cancer through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

• Listen: This is a good time to listen without judgment, without advice…Just hear what they need to say.

• Advocate: Ask if they would like you to accompany them to doctor visits. You can take notes, which will allow the patient to revisit the information and process at their own pace. It also gives you an opportunity to advocate for the best care possible.

• Humor: Provide humor and a light-hearted spirit to lift them up. Some examples include a silly cake, a party to celebrate baldness, funny letters, funny movies, etc.

• Distraction: Distract them with little surprises such as a book to read, a movie to watch, flowers, chocolate, etc.

• Stay connected: Remain in contact with them frequently but don’t expect reciprocation. Let them know you care. If they don’t feel like talking, leave a message for them to hear later. Read their blogs and Facebook posts and respond accordingly.

• Food: Ask before bringing food. They may be overwhelmed with too much food or not feel like eating. Groceries might be more welcomed than a prepared meal. Ask them what they would like.

• Children: If there are children at home, help them maintain a normal schedule. Offer to take them to practice or help with homework.

• Cards: Send lots of cards to let them know you are thinking about them.

• No strings: Make sure the patient does not feel obligated to return any favors. Send food in disposable dishes, don’t expect to visit with them, etc.

• Walk: Don’t forget them when the battle is won. Join them for a walk for the cure or walk in their honor.

Each cancer patient is different and will have differing needs. Be sure to talk with your friend and find out what will benefit them the most. I’m sure they will thank you for being their friend.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state and provides equal opportunities in all programming and employment. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.  Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides real life solutions. Visit ag.tennessee.edu.

For more information on this or other family and consumer sciences-related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at [email protected] or 615-444-9584.

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