Communicate with the patient. Offer specific suggestions about what you can do for them, and don’t assume you know what they want.

Consider creating a care schedule. Organizing people and what they can do to help will make everyone’s support more efficient and meaningful. This can also help accomplish things that may otherwise get forgotten.

Show you care. Support doesn’t have to be a huge gesture. Send a card, give them a list of books you recommend reading, bring them a stack of magazines, or treat them to a coffee date.

Allow them to be exactly as they are. Understand there are good days and bad days. If a patient is grouchy, be patient and keep showing you care and are there for them. Allow them to express all of their feelings.

What not to do:

• Don’t ever compare their situation to anyone else you know who

has/had cancer.

• Don’t withdraw even when this is hard for you. Your friend needs

you to be responsive.

• Don’t predict their future.

• Don’t comment negatively about their appearance, including hair loss.

Sources: American Cancer Society and cancer survivors in Santa Fe

People participate in a mask-making activity at a Gerard’s House support group. Photo courtesy of Gerard’s House

Relationships & Caregiving





Santa Fe New Mexican