There is no right or wrong way or any obligation to put a brave face on things. It is something that is best shared when you are ready. There are many people who can help, a good starting point is the Macmillan cancer support website which has some excellent information and advice.Read more
Partners. Communicating regularly with partners is really important as this will naturally be a time of significant stress. People can react in different ways sometimes partners needs support from the cancer patient, other times they may be distant due to work or just the shock. Again there are no right or wrong answers but understanding what can happen, that you are not alone and talking about what is happening will help. There are a lot of resources available online – please see the links below.
Children. Telling our children can be the hardest step and clearly, you want to be as supportive as you can. Again there is help online, well worth reading through, see the links below. Children can sometimes blame themselves and even blame a sick parent. They may well be worried about their lives and what happens to them rather than their parent. These are all normal reactions and knowing what can happen can help massively.
Colleagues and work. Sharing the news with your work and colleagues is really important. The vast majority of employers will look after their employees and they have a number of legal obligations. Many jobs have benefits schemes to help with short and long-term absence and may have life and critical illness protection. It is well worth discussing these options with your employer so you both know what is happening early on. Helping your colleagues understand will also let them work with you effectively and many will offer personal support too.
Helpful tips when supporting a friend
Although each person with cancer is different, here are some suggestions for showing support:
What to say
Don’t be afraid to talk with your friend. It is better to say, “I don’t know what to say” than to stop calling or visiting out of fear.
Here are some options to help show your care and support:
Here are examples of phrases that are unhelpful:
Remember, you can communicate with someone in many different ways, depending on how he or she prefers to communicate. If you don’t see your friend regularly, a simple phone call, text message, or video call shows that you care. Let your friend know it’s okay if he or she doesn’t reply.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Organizing a support team is a great way to help a friend living with cancer. Some online communities offer tools to coordinate tasks among friends and caregivers. Shareable online calendars help you organise activities among your group of friends and family. Or, you can always make a paper calendar and write in the various activities and commitments by hand. Make sure your friend has access to the calendar so he or she knows what to expect and when.
Friendship makes a difference
Continuing friendships and regular activities after a cancer diagnosis is a great way to further the healing process. Don’t forget that friends also need encouragement and support after cancer treatment has finished. After treatment, your friend will be trying to find his or her “new normal” in this next phase of life. Friendships are an important part of that. With these practical suggestions in mind, your friendship can make a lasting difference to a person living with cancer.
Coping with a cancer diagnosis is challenging enough without having to worry about finances. These days it is so difficult to have “rainy day” savings to help at these times but there are some affordable insurance policies which will pay you a cash lump sum on diagnosis of cancer to help you stop money worries and let you focus on getting better.
If you have, or have had cancer, you might not be eligible for insurance, but there are still some excellent resources available, Macmillan in particular offer specialised support for cancer patients with money worries.Find out more
The NHS runs a regular program to look for signs of breast cancer and two years prior to my discovering a lump in my right breast I had already had one ‘scare’ arising from that programme. I went to our GP without delay and she packed me off to the Nuffield hospital for a mammogram. The result came back quite quickly, in the following week as I recall, confirming my fears. I felt numb at first and then very frightened. I was aged 52 at the time.