Even though family and friends can be there to help, many people still find it hard to ask for, and then accept, support. When you are dealing with treatment and side effects, your support network can make an enormous difference. Family and friends usually appreciate being allowed to provide support – it helps them feel useful. Some people don’t have family and friends who are willing or able to help, but there are also many sources of professional support.
Learn more about:
- Offers of help
- Ways family and friends can help
- Other sources of support
- When you need professional support
- Health professionals who can help
- Practical and financial help
- Finding useful contacts
People are often willing to help if they know what you need. Family and friends can support you in different ways. Some people will be able to talk about the cancer and comfort you if you are upset. Other people may prefer to offer practical support. If you have a partner or another person providing most of your care, an important role for other family and friends may be to support that carer.
Some people like to use an app on their smartphone or computer, such as CanDo, LOVLIST or Caringbridge. These apps allow you to list tasks and set up a roster so people can choose activities that match their abilities and interests. They can also be a convenient way to share updates with your social circle.
Talking to a counsellor made me realise I don’t have to go it alone. We have good friends and a great community who will support me. I just needed to be able to step back and see the possibilities.
The suggestions below may be a useful prompt when people say, “Let me know if you need anything.”
Providing practical support
- preparing meals
- doing household chores
- going grocery shopping
- driving you to appointments
- sharing an after-school roster
- helping you exercise
Keeping others informed
- screening calls and emails
- acting as the main point of contact
- coordinating offers of support
- updating social media
- keeping you company
- listening without trying to solve your problems
Keeping you involved
- getting you out and about
- talking about other things aside from cancer
For more tips, listen to our podcast How to Help Someone with Cancer
Dr Anna Hughes, Liaison Psychiatrist and Psycho-oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anita Bamert, Psychologist, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria, VIC; Sally Carveth, Assistant Coordinator, Cancer Support Leader Program, Cancer Council NSW; Matt Featherstone, Consumer; Dr Charlotte Tottman, Clinical Psychologist, Allied Consultant Psychologists and Flinders University, SA; Shirley Witko, Senior Social Worker, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA.
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