There’s nothing worse than hearing the dreaded C word. Even if you and your immediate family aren’t directly affected by cancer, this terrible disease can still infiltrate your life. One of the most common ways is if one of your friend’s family is affected by it. As a friend, you will obviously want to be there for your friend and support him or her as much as you can. But what if it is their child who gets the diagnosis? This can be a devastating diagnosis and many parents will take this harder than if had been themselves who had been hit with the C word.
Want to help a friend whose child has recently been diagnosed with cancer? Here are some things you can do without overstepping any boundaries.
Don’t Offer Your Own Medical Advice
Even if one of your own relatives took part in some relatively new treatment and recovered, there’s no reason why you should tell your friend. It’s also not a good idea to give your opinion on any alternative medicines. Leave all the medical and treatment side of things to the experts. It can become ever so tiresome and annoying hearing so many recommendations and bits of advice from people who mean well but, ultimately, don’t have a clue what they are talking about. If there is a new, pioneering treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, then you can be sure that your friend’s family doctor will inform them. It’s not your place to do so. So, make sure you don’t try to offer any medical advice as it probably won’t go down all that well with your friend.
Be Open With The Child
You will no doubt come into contact with the child once they have found out about their diagnosis. In fact, your friend might need some help with childcare when their child is undergoing cancer treatment and might ask you to sit with them if they struggle to get time off work. Some adults believe that children should be shielded from bad news and negativity but this really isn’t the case. You might be surprised at how much young children can cope with! So, don’t be scared to talk openly and honestly about their illness and the treatment that they are going through. They might really appreciate a chat so that they can get things off their chest!
Don’t Ask Your Friend If They Need Help… Just Do It
Think your friend could do with some help? Maybe they are struggling to get to school in time to pick up their other children or they just can’t be bothered cooking a meal for the family after a day at the hospital. If this is the case, don’t ask your friends if they need help - you can visibly see that they do. So, just tell them what you will do. Rather than saying something like, “do you need someone to pick the kids up from school next week?” say something like “I’ll pick up the kids for you next week”. When you ask them a question, they might feel like you are pushing them into a corner so that they admit that they are struggling with life at the minute. However, if you simply tell them that you will help, they can benefit from your help without admitting that things are difficult for them at the minute.
Stay Away From Cliches
When you are talking to your friend and their child, you should always try and stay away from any potential cliches. Not sure what a cliche is? They are sayings that people will often say in certain situations. For instance, someone might feel obliged to say something positive like “every cloud has a silver lining” in a sad situation. However, it is really important that you try and sidetrack cliches in your conversation. Even though you might be meaning these phrases with all the best intentions, your friend and their child might take them the wrong way and they could find them upsetting. They just won’t want to hear that kind of stuff when they are working through such a difficult time.
Spend Some Time With The Siblings
It’s important that the healthy siblings aren’t forgotten. This can be very easy for parents to do when they are so wound up with their sick child’s treatment and hospital routine. But it really is necessary that they try and find time to spend with their other children on a one-on-one basis so that the other kids don’t feel neglected. There are some ways you can help with this. You might want to look after their sick child one day or take them for their treatment while your friend spends time with their other children. Or, if things are really busy with the cancer treatment, then you might want to offer to take the siblings out for a day. This is a nice idea if you are particularly close with the family and the other siblings view you in the same way as an aunty or uncle.
Don’t Comment On How A Child Looks
When it comes to most major diseases, including cancer, looks can be very deceiving. There might be times when the cancer is quite aggressive, but you wouldn’t be able to know this just by looking at the child. In fact, they might appear fairly healthy to you. If this is the case, though, you should never say that they are looking good or healthy - this could be quite upsetting for the parent and child to hear, especially if the opposite is true. Similarly, there might be times when the treatment makes them look a lot iller and weaker than what they actually are. To make sure you never get it wrong, just don’t ever comment on a sick child’s appearance.
Finding out that a friend’s child is suffering from cancer can be a very difficult time indeed. Hopefully, all of the above tips will help you handle the situation as best you can.