Assisting a Friend with Cancer


Assisting a Friend with Cancer

            Finding out that a friend has got cancer is quite disheartening. In this scenario, one could have several questions on how he or she can help a friend; and one could have several questions concerning cancer itself and how he or she should talk to the friend about the condition (Forbat, Place, Hubbard, Leung and Kelly 2014). Especially, when they are so close to the person with cancer, it could be quite stressful and frightening. On realizing a friend has got cancer, the first question that normally comes to the mind is how he or she could assist the person to seek. According to American Cancer Society 2016, there are also instances when a person who is sick is reluctant in seeking help from the medical practitioner.

 This essay examines on how one could assist a friend who has confided in him or her about having cancer and is reluctant to seek help from the necessary places. 

Possible Advice to a Friend who has Cancer and is not reluctant to Seek Help

In the event that this friend with cancer is a co-worker, one could also wonder how his or her work situation could be affected by the condition of the friend. Breen, O’connor, Hewitt and Lobb 2014, argues that it is quite stressful to realize that a close friend struggling with a health condition like cancer and they are not willing or ready to get help from a medical doctor. One of the ways this kind of friend is by making an appointment for them with a doctor. However, the person should always be made aware of the intention of booking for them an appointment with a doctor (Ekberg et al 2014). It is also appropriate for one to consult with the doctor if they are happy with such kind of an appointment. It could be possible that the person is reluctant to seek help because of their nerves; one should always to show that they are willing to accompany them to offer moral support. However, the friend should be making their personal decision that they would want to be accompanied by the consultant. Goodman et al 2013, points out that before anything is done, it would be prudent for one to get more details about the diagnosis. This is because your friend may not be willing to discuss in details about his or her condition due to many reasons. If the friend has got a spouse, it is prudent to get more details from the spouse and confirm with the friend who is sick as to whether the information that has been given is truthful (Palos et al 2011).

It is important to note that the person living with cancer normally finds it hard to ask for help because they hate being pitied. However, isolating these people is also not good for their health because they will start feeling depressed. As a friend, one should be willing to help the person with cancer with some daily tasks. Remember that, it may be difficult for this person to ask for help, however, as Henderson 2015 posits that, assisting with daily household errands such as; grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the house, taking and picking up the kids from the school, babysitting if these people have got a small kid, and/ or doing laundry. Nonetheless, before one starts assisting a friend who is cancerous with these errands, it is prudent to ask them if they are feeling comfortable with the help that you are willing to offer him or her. it is also advisable that the person willing to help a friend with the daily household tasks to make a list of things that they are willing and ready to be assisted with. 

The other way by which a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer and is reluctant to seek help can be assisted is by offering them a listening to them. Always be ready to listen to his or her own version of the story and ask him or her on the possible reason why he is reluctant to seek help. The friend can be advised to seek help from the necessary sources, but he or she should be allowed to make his or her personal decision. However, there are instances when one could be forced to make personal decisions on behalf of the patient because he or she is not in a position to make a sound decision. However, it is important to have a sense of how they feel about the all things to make a decision about it is done. It is advisable that as a friend who is concerned to put things in the right perspective by considering the facts at hand. According to Scholl, Zill, Härter, and Dirmaier, 2014, there are instances when the patient who is reluctant to seek help can be offered palliative care. Palliative care is the kind of help that is given to the patient who is struggling with cancer, and it is not about treating the condition (Wiener, Weaver, Bell and Sansom-Daly 2015). It is about offering comfort care to the patient and this will make him or her to feel better about his or her condition, but it is not about the treatment of the disease. Palliative care entails treating or preventing symptoms of cancer from spreading and other side effects that are caused by treatment. Comfort care is also about assisting the patient with spiritual and emotional support during and after cancer treatment. It is important to always advise the patient that the condition can still be managed if proper care is provided and therefore he or she should not be reluctant is seeking for help. In the event that his or her cancer is in the advanced state, he or she should be advised to go for palliative care. This will prolong their lives and as a result, they can live longer than they expected. He or she should be advised that the palliative can go on even if they are already on the treatment, and even when the treatment is no longer providing the care that is needed. Finally, advise the patient on the advantage of seeking help about their condition (Whitaker et al 2015).


American Cancer Society., 2016. How to Be a Friend to Someone With Cancer. Retrieved January 5, from

Breen, L.J., O’connor, M., Hewitt, L.Y. and Lobb, E.A., 2014. The “specter” of cancer: Exploring secondary trauma for health professionals providing cancer support and counseling. Psychological services, 11(1), p.60.

Forbat, L., Place, M., Hubbard, G., Leung, H. and Kelly, D., 2014. The role of interpersonal relationships in men’s attendance in primary care: qualitative findings in a cohort of men with prostate cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer, 22(2), pp.409-415.

Ekberg, K., McDermott, J., Moynihan, C., Brindle, L., Little, P. and Leydon, G.M., 2014. The role of helplines in cancer care: intertwining emotional support with information or advice-seeking needs. Journal of psychosocial oncology, 32(3), pp.359-381.

Goodman, D.C., Morden, N.E., Chang, C.H., Fisher, E.S. and Wennberg, J.E., 2013. Trends in cancer care near the end of life. A Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care Brief.

Henderson, R., 2015. How can I get help for someone else? Netdoctor. Retrieved January 5,2018, from

Palos, G.R., Mendoza, T.R., Liao, K.P., Anderson, K.O., Garcia‐Gonzalez, A., Hahn, K., Nazario, A., Ramondetta, L.M., Valero, V., Lynch, G.R. and Jibaja‐Weiss, M.L., 2011. Caregiver symptom burden: the risk of caring for an underserved patient with advanced cancer. Cancer, 117(5), pp.1070-1079.

Scholl, I., Zill, J.M., Härter, M. and Dirmaier, J., 2014. An integrative model of patient-centeredness–a systematic review and concept analysis. PloS one, 9(9), p.e107828.

Wiener, L., Weaver, M.S., Bell, C.J. and Sansom-Daly, U.M., 2015. Threading the cloak: palliative care education for care providers of adolescents and young adults with cancer. Clinical oncology in adolescents and young adults, 5, p.1.

Whitaker, K.L., Macleod, U., Winstanley, K., Scott, S.E. and Wardle, J., 2015. Help seeking for cancer ‘alarm’symptoms: a qualitative interview study of primary care patients in the UK. Br J Gen Pract, 65(631), pp.e96-e105.

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