How To Help A Cancer Patient

How To Help A Cancer Patient – Are You Also Clueless?

I have been living with cancer, recovering from cancer, in fear of getting the cancer again, rinse and repeat cycle for the last 5 and half years. The chances are that you read this article right now, because you know someone who has cancer too, want to help, but don’t know how. Join me in my very personal story to teach you how to help cancer patients!

I have written many updates on my social media profiles about my cancer simply because it helps me to talk about it. People have reacted in different ways, some positive, but also often in some very negative ways.

Cancer Cells
Nasty cancer cells

I wanted to write down my thoughts how you can help someone who is living with cancer. This post originally appeared as a rant on my Facebook page, I have altered, updated and edited it for the purposes of making it into more of a guide for people who want to help a friend, relative, child or spouse living with cancer!

In order for people to help, the need to understand how it is to live with cancer, so here it is, my raw and very personal take into being a cancer patient!

Living With Cancer Day In, Day Out

How does one deal with impossible work deadlines, kids, household, friendships, upcoming holidays while trying to take care of oneself, get rid of the cancer and all the other health problems it causes and heal?

The answer is; you don’t

It’s just not possible

Nobody really understands

They all say they do, but they don’t

Deep inside they are just mad at you

Angry at you for not pulling your weight around

After All, the live goes one around you

It is only for you time stands still!

 

They don’t understand the guilt not being able to be there for your kids!

I am so tired all the time
I am so tired all the time!

Not to have the energy to clear the house, wash the laundry or sort out the garden!

Do the paperwork of running 2 companies and trying to concentrate working full time for third!

Do some exercise, yoga and meditation and of course train the dog, because I am the one who wanted to have him in the first place!

Take care of ones impossible diet and get some sleep.

Least of all, they will understand how tired you are ALL THE TIME!

They Tell You

They tell you to take it easy, not to work, but get mad if there is no cash to pay all the bills in time.

They tell you shouldn’t use your time and energy on traveling if you are feeling so poorly, but expect you to be present at every business meeting.

Still love skiing
I still love skiing, even if for just few hours!

They tell you to rest, but when you try to spend time alone, they tell you are never there for the family.

At Home

My every waking moment goes into either into working or sorting out the chaos inside the house or in the garden, running errands and doing paperwork.

The house is falling apart and the garden is a jungle. It feels like I get nothing done, ever and everyone is just mad at me 🙁

No energy for kids and even going out to walk the dog, something I always loved becomes a chore…

I start one thing but never have a chance to finish it, at night I fall on the bed dead exhausted but unable to sleep from the stress and often lay awake all night worrying.

On The Road

If I am on the road, I leave the kids to their father or grand-mum, I am a bad mum. It makes no difference if I am going away on business because I want to make a difference and actually care about our future or to the clinic to receive the treatments. I am not there and therefore I am not a good mum.

Me sitting in the office, fulfilling my CTO role
Me sitting in the office, fulfilling my CTO role

If I am work, people are blaming me for things that were happening when I was not there, things nobody bothered to discuss with me or even inform me about. Other people make technical decisions, changing plans without consulting me and causing a huge mess. I get blamed for not keeping to deadlines which would have been difficult even under the best of circumstances.

At The Clinic

Me at the mountain lake near my cancer clinic
Me at the mountain lake near my cancer clinic

If I am at the clinic, nobody understands how hard the days spent there are. People see pictures of me sitting by the lake or
on the mountain after the treatments, not hooked up to the machines at the clinic or having my body put through yet an other set of tests.

Everyone seems to think it’s just an other holiday that I didn’t deserve because after all I am not pulling my weight and and other people are working way harder that I am.

They don’t understand connectivity problems and times it takes to get to this remote location or how exhausted the treatments and the medication make me.

Where Is The Support From My Loved Ones?

Nobody even bothers to ask me anymore how I feel, nor cares when I almost faint from pain or cannot walk or drive the car properly. If I can do it on Monday, surely Friday cannot be any different?

They are all tired of hearing from my health problems, treatments and medication, it’s always the same. Better not to ask anything if what you will hear is unpleasant, right?

I know everything about cancer!
I know everything about cancer!

Everyone has their own opinions of cancer treatments, which their learned from Internet or their friends and for sure offer them freely. If I don’t want to listen with a lot of attention and care, I am a fool for not keeping all my options open. After all their cousins mother-in-laws brother got well by using this or that method!

When my body swells as my kidneys refuse to function and my missing lymph nodes are not making things any better, people think I am fat and disgusting. Other females look at my swollen legs smugly and claim I have cellulite, my own son tells me to do some exercise and men remark how much weight I have put on.

Swollen with water retention, in pain at company event
Swollen with water retention, in pain at company event

When I don’t fit into my trousers they tell me to wear looser clothing so they don’t have to look at my disgusting body. When I am not able to wear bra from my scars, which hurt from swelling, I am provoking and slutty. When my stomach, deformed from the operation scars, protrudes trough my clothing, people stare with disgust.

When I cannot eat what others do, they still wave stuff in front of my nose, because it tastes good and they want to make me feel excluded. Who cares if the smells of food drives me nuts when I am fasting?

How Do I Get The Strength To Carry On?

My favorite moments are me sitting in my car, driving somewhere, because I can play loud rock music and pretend for just a moment that I am not ill and it is all just a nightmare.

On the good days when the sun is out, I love to take walks with my dog and think about my life. On bad days I like soaking in a hot bath tub or taking a sauna. I love spending time on my own.

I keep on telling myself that I am beautiful despite the scars and the swelling and worthy of peoples love. That it’s worth fighting for to get healthy again. I avoid looking into the mirror and buying clothes.

Me at summer festival
Me at summer festival

Those are the moments I live for, that give me power to continue my fight. And of course for the few rock concerts I have lined up  and look forward to.

That and the support of the few amazing people who are always there for me, ready to listen or just hold me when it all gets too much.

What Can I Do To Help?

If you got this far, it’s because you actually wanted to understand how it is to live with a cancer. You should be able to related better to the reason which got you started reading this article in the first place!

So next time you see your loved one, either me or someone you care about, try to remember the following:

  1. DO NOT MAKE EMPTY COMPLIMENTS! If someone has just lost their hair as a results of cancer treatments, they do NOT want to hear they look OK, trust me on this one! If they complain about it or want to go shopping for hats or wig, offer help and your opinions, but DO NOT TELL THEM THEY LOOK JUST FINE!
  2. DO NOT COMMENT ON CANCER PATIENTS WEIGHT! Cancer can cause you both LOSE & GAIN weight. Just because someone you once knew lost a lot of weight due to cancer, it doesn’t mean someone else can’t suffer from excess water swelling due to cancer!
  3. DO NOT TELL THEM THAT THEIR CANCER POSTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA ARE ATTENTION SEEKING! When people talk about their cancer, it is not because they are just seeking attention and pity posting on social media or by taking up cancer related issues in a conversation. It HELPS to talk about it and this is what your doctors and therapists teach you to do!
  4. DO NOT OFFER YOUR INSIGHTS INTO ALL SORTS OF NEW CANCER TREATMENTS YOU HAVE HEARD ABOUT! She does NOT want to hear about, it, TRUST ME ON THIS ONE! She has spent thousands of hours reading about it, researching the topic, if she wants to discuss it with you, she will ask you of your opinion!
  5. DO NOT TELL HER WHAT TO DO OR HOW TO SPEND HER TIME! If she likes to travel or party, let her, it gives her something, energy perhaps, or just a moment without worries.
    Me enjoying a Metal concert.
    Me enjoying a Metal concert.

    Maybe she is just filling her bucket list. If she wants to be alone and listen to sad music, let her, maybe it helps her mentally. Let her find out what helps HER and be supportive!

  6. DO NOT TELL HER TO KEEP TO HER DIET! Cancer diets are often very difficult, they require enormous amount of strength and will power. If she decides to let go one day or for a duration of the holiday, DO NOT JUDGE HER!
  7. DO LET HER BE THE ONE TO START TALKING ABOUT CANCER! There are times when we just don’t want to go here and often those times we are suffering the most! Be patient, be attentive and follow our lead!
  8. DO FIND TIME JUST TO BE THERE FOR HER! Talk to her, check on her once in a while, do silly things with her
    Me and my mum at carneval in Sitges
    Me and my mum at carneval in Sitges

    Ask her how she is doing, send her flowers, take her out,  go to the rock concert with her, spend the day with her or what ever she wants to do! Don’t wait until one day she is no longer  with you to tell and show her you care!

  9. DO ASK HER HOW YOU CAN HELP! There are so many ways you can do small favors for cancer sufferers, just ask, we do appreciate it. She might be too tired to clean the house, walk the dog, wash the car or she might just enjoy a break from cooking. Respect her answer and know if it was: ‘I am OK thnx’ on Monday, it might be different on Friday.
  10. DO OFFER HER HEALTHY CHOICES! If you bring her chocolate, make it dark chocolate, if you invite her over for dinner, make sure you prepare a nice and healthy meal. DOT NOT EAT UNHEALTHY STUFF IN FRONT OF HER AND TELL HER YOU ADMIRE HER WILL POWER! Take her to that new juice bar or ask her to join you in gym or a walk. She often struggles to make those choices on her own!
  11. DO DEFEND HER IN FRONT OF OTHERS WHO ARE UNAWARE OF HER ILLNESS! She might not want to tell everyone herself, but if someone is wondering why she has her ups and downs and criticize her in front of you, let them know so they stop judging her. It is not a state secret, that is unless she explicitly asked you not to tell someone or anyone for that matter.
  12. DO INFORM OTHERS TO READ THIS POST! If they are making the same mistakes you were or not understanding what the cancer patient is going through, ask them to read my post with thought.
My alter ego Xena, fighting cancer
My alter ego Xena, fighting cancer

Am I asking too much? Actually all I ask is for you to THINK and just take a moment to CARE or talk to me next time you see me!

This post is not a rant, but rather a tribute for the ones who have been there from the moment I got diagnosed and the ones who just shared the last month of my fight. I don’t care if I have known you all my life or know you only from the Internet:

YOUR SUPPORT MEANS A WORLD TO ME AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT!

Winne The Pooh about love
Winne The Pooh about love

With All My Love,

cropped-Large.png

P.S. If you want to learn how to deepen your meditation experience, take a look at the Ayurveda aroma experience These essential oils have a subtle, yet extremely powerful influence on our mind and body.

25 thoughts on “How To Help A Cancer Patient – Are You Also Clueless?”

  1. I always spent my half an hour to read this blogs articles every day along with a cup of coffee. I love the personal touch you are giving them and I love them all but this one is the first one I was compelled to leave a message from. My mother died of cervical cancer few years back and she was so lonely, I realised it too late, but luckily before she died. I wish I had read this article then. I hope you find someone who understands you. XXX

  2. I really enjoyed this article. It gave me much better understanding how to help my sister, who is suffering from breast cancer. I feel so helpless and not sure what to do or say. She says she feels so alone, but it was difficult to understand as we were always there wanting to help her out. Now I know why!

    1. Hi Dorota, I am happy I could help you to understand better why your sister is feeling so alone with her cancer. She is always welcome to contact me if she wants someone to talk to.

  3. Awesome post, seen your post featured on flipboard and although I don’t have cancer, it is still very interesting for the other benefits it offers. Do you have personal experience about the weight loss effects of intermittent fasting? I have been thinking of trying 5:2 fasting routine to loose some unwanted pounds I’m carrying.

    1. Hi Josefine,
      Its great to know that flipboard has featured my article! I have personally been only doing 18:6 and 36h fasts, but I know a lot of people who do 5:2 IF for weightloss. I am part of a wonderfully supportive Facebook group, which has many members with a long experience with 5:2 weight loss. People are sharing their weight loss stories, recipes and sharing tips dealing with side effects.
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/the52diet/

  4. I saw your article featured on a cancer website and it just blew my mind! I have been looking for someone who has been trying this out. There is so research available, but it’s of course not the same thing! I have so many questions about fasting! Have you personally experienced medical benefits with your tumors? I wonder if I could write you an email?

    1. Hi Mary,
      I have experienced the benefits from IF fasting for my cancer. I have been using it as one of my methods to battle my stage 4 ovarian cancer, which is now in remission. You are welcome to write me an email at artybyheart@artbyheart.biz

  5. I just like the valuable information you supply in your articles for cancer patient, intermittent fasting is something I have looked into myself but worried about the starvation effect hurting my metabolism. This article has convinced me giving it a go.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and I’m looking forward of learning more about natural ways of curing cancer!
    Good luck for the next!

    1. Hi Rueben, I’m glad to know that my article has given you the courage to give IF a go. Starvation effect will definitely not harm your metabolism, after all we are only talking about 36h fasting. I am planning to write more natural cancer cures related articles and will keep you updated.

  6. I really like your blog…very nice colors and theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to design my own blog about cancer and would like to know where u got this from.

    It’s full of important information, especially about cancer, which I am currently suffering from. I find it is really difficult to make people understand how daily life of a cancer patient is like. My family ad friends have difficult time understanding. Do you have other cancer related articles as well?

    cheers

    1. Hi Tuyet,
      Great, it’s always good to know that my message is important to others. I have designed my blog myself and sent you email with some information relating to my plugins and templates.
      It’s hard being a cancer patient, this is exactly what I am trying to point out with my article, maybe you can point your family and friends to my article? It might help. I have written few cancer related articles, here is my main one:
      Intermittent Fasting For Cancer Patients

  7. Hi Hanna,

    I loved your article. The way that you enumerated your advice on what others can do to help, was brilliant. People who haven’t been through what you’re going through, will simply never understand.

    For me, the Winnie the Pooh cartoon just sums it all up.

    You’re a beautiful soul, Hanna, and I wish nothing but the best for you.

    Steve

    1. Hi Steve,
      I am happy you read my story and took the time to write a comment! It pains me sometimes that people in my life who mean well, simply do the wrong thing and it gets everyone frustrated and hurt! Understanding what someone else goes through is always a good thing.
      Winnie The Pooh is my childhood hero, my grandma read me the stories since I was a small baby and I identified with the characters back then and secretly still do.
      Thank you for the well wishes, I will fight to beat this thing!

  8. Aww my friend what a great article, especially the Pooh bear cartoon. Poignant in someone case who I know well. lol I wish you oodles of luck mate and do not EVER give up. There may be a cure just waiting to happen at the rate we are progressing, faster than the cancer itself!

    1. Hi Simon 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement and well wishes! I am sure that everything will turn out OK, some days are just worse than others. I am discovering new natural cancer healing methods everyday, I am not going to trust chemicals ever again.

      P.S. I also really love the Pooh bear!

  9. Hi Hanna,

    I’m so pleased I found your site. After reading your story, I learned just how much I didn’t know.

    I’ve had many friends and family that have been affected by cancer and to be honest I never really knew what I should do or how I should do it. My limited knowledge told me:

    Find out as much as possible about the type cancer;
    Treat them the same; and
    Be there for them whenever they need you.

    I think back 19 years ago, when my dad passed away having suffered for 3 years with Bowel cancer. It was like he was the loneliest person on this earth, and I didn’t know how to make him feel better, I was pretty hopeless actually. Thank God my mother knew what to do.

    Thank you so much for sharing this information I’ll remember your story if ever any of my friends or family find they’re having to live with cancer.

    Blessings to you and your family.

    1. Hi there Gaylene, I am sorry for taking so long time to respond. I somehow have missed your comment amongst the others and feel terrible about it 🙁

      I am sorry to hear about your dad! I know it must have been really difficult to see him suffer like that. Yes, unfortunately one of the ‘side effects’ of cancer is the feeling of loneliness and the thought that nobody understands what you are going through! If creeps in slowly as your illness progresses and you have to really fight it not to let it take over!

      I know people feel they need to help, but I always say to people who constantly give me advice about this and that regarding my cancer: Think before you advice someone:
      1) Would you bet your own life into what ever you are recommending?
      2) Are you willing to take responsibility for mine?
      And only if the answer to both questions is yes, you should gently find the right time to discuss this method to me 🙂

  10. Hanna, you made me cry. I’m sorry people around you don’t realise how badly you are suffering. Let me assure you, I don’t care about your swollen body or you being down on some days, as I see YOU as you truly are; TRULY BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, inside out! And everyone who really knows you, thinks so. Never forget that!

    1. Hi Diana,
      Thank you so much for those words and for all your friendship over the years. You are one of those people who have always been there for me, supporting me through it all.

  11. Hi, Hanna! I just want you to know that you made me cry today! All this time i am struggling with cancer and even though i have the love of my loved ones i feel so alone! Your words speak to my heart! Thank you!
    Best wishes,
    Rebecca!

    1. Hi Rebecca! I am sorry to make you cry, not my purpose. I suggest you show my article to some of your nearest or maybe write down your own story? It helps enormously to put it down!
      I know the loneliness, it follows cancer and is one of it’s worst not-so-often-spoken-of side-effects! I am here for you, anytime!

  12. Wow, I am humbled once again by how brave you are! I may not understand what it is like to have cancer (I am only currently going through testing for the second time to see if what’s growing in my neck is cancer or not – last time it was not so hopefully this time also).

    What I do understand is how difficult it is to be a transparent person. how difficult it is to speak your truth, especially when those around you no longer want to hear or take the time to truly understand your truth. I understand what it means to be a strong, vibrant woman, yet feel vulnerable all at once.

    From my limited experiences with you, you are truly a lovely work of art. You are a masterpiece in mind, spirit, and body. I am lost in how I can support (I would make you a tea and tidy up your home but distance of course prevents me from being able to do so for you).

    So please feel free to tell me ways I can support. I am here and doing my best to truly listen to not just your words but also your heart.

    From my heart to yours,

    Joy

    1. Hi Joy, thank you for reading my post and taking the time to write your lovely reply.
      I think you have understood my post exactly the way it was meant to be understood. I often feel so lonely and often like a failure for not been able to do all the things as before. I know my loved ones are doing their best, it’s just sometimes their actions are misguided.
      I really appreciate your support, just writing to me and reading my thoughts is more than enough, it really helps!

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