The non-medical needs of heart failure patients

May 18, 2009 by  

hands-holdingPatients who are terminally ill and their caregivers get the so-called palliative care which focuses on reducing the suffering of the patients and easing the burden off caregivers and family members. This type of care, however, is not provided to less severe (but nonetheless life-threatening) chronically ill patients and their families. However, there is a general feeling that some of their needs – especially non-medical needs – aren’t given the attention they deserve, according to a research study reported at the American Heart Association’s 10th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke. This is especially true in patients with heart failure (and their caregivers), who expressed distress over the following:

not knowing what to expect

being unable to relieve symptoms

a lack of communication with medical staff

Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine conducted in-depth interviews with 33 outpatients with heart failure and 20 caregivers. The interviewees were asked what the following in relation to the situation of having heart failure:

  • What causes them distress?
  • What would they find most helpful?
  • What are the unmet needs with regards to symptom management, psychosocial care and planning?

The results of the interviews indicate that

Uncertainty causes a lot of distress.

Patients and their caregivers want to know more about what to expect about the disease, its management, and prognosis.

Patients also need more help with symptom relief.

Finally, patients and carers expressed their desire for more communication with their health care providers.

According to lead researcher Dr. David Bekelman

“Most teams treating heart failure are medically focused. There is little guidance on the emotional, financial, spiritual and social impact of heart failure. This study helps define a role for palliative care in addressing the needs of heart failure patients and their caregivers.”

It seems that chronically ill patients such as those with heart failure have unmet needs that go beyond just mere medical care. There is a need for psychological and social support for these patients and their caregivers. Previous studies have shown that heart patients are prone to depression that can affect their overall quality of life. Their caregivers are affected as well.

Dr. Bekelman continues:

“There are unmet needs in the management of this disease. People need to know what to expect in the future of the illness and require help in adjusting to the limitations of heart failure by learning what steps they can take to improve the quality of their lives.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Caregiver’s Corner – How Hospice Helps Caregivers

May 16, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Today is Friday, the day that I dedicate to the amazing people who fall are caregivers.

You are true warriors. You battle the elements to get your loved ones to doctor’s appointments, You battle your grief as you go about providing care while you are tired, frustrated and wondering how you’ll be able to make it. You battle Alzheimer’s disease daily. Sometimes you get a thank you and sometimes you don’t. But you always keep on going.

After a few days of talking about hospice, I’ll wrap up the week by telling you how hospice can help you as a caregiver. You may be tempted to skip over this because your loved one is not anywhere near the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. However, I encourage you to read on because the more informed you are, the easier it will be to make a decision when the time comes.

Just by way of review – Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. Most people are not aware that hospice care is a benefit of Medicare Part A. Some hospice workers refer to it as “Medicare’s best kept secret.” Please see my post entitled Medicare Made Simple for more information about Medicare.

Here’s how hospice can help you as a caregiver:

Hospice can help you to be the best caregiver possible during a very difficult time. According to, Hospice can teach you to:

  1. Communicate effectively with your loved one
  2. Support your loved one’s spiritual concerns
  3. Help resolve unfinished business
  4. Work with health professionals
  5. Work and communicate with family and friends
  6. Take care of your own needs

In addition:

  • Hospice can provide you with a myriad of readings and affirmations from various faith traditions to share with your loved one
  • Hospice can teach you and help you to say goodbye
  • Hospice can help you to understand the process of death. They can help you to understand what is happening physically to your loved one. It’s difficult to watch our loved ones die, but it is important to know in advance what is happening.
  • Hospice can also help you with a companion or volunteer for your loved one if you have to be away from home to run errands, etc. for a period of time or need a break and don’t want you leave your loved one alone.

So friend, I encourage you to seriously consider allowing the wonderful employees and volunteers of hospice to help you as you care for your loved one. Remember that you are no good to your loved one if you are trying to play martyr or superman (or woman). Your loved one needs you informed, rested and ready.

In the end, in addition to providing care for your loved one, the hospice team can help YOU to be the best caregiver you can be.

Things Caregivers Do to Hurt Themselves and Their Loved Ones

May 9, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Refuse to ask for help–Caregivers tend to get frustrated that other family members and close friends are not chipping in as they should.  Instead of reaching out, they often adopt the attitued, “if I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself.”  This is not good for anyone, the caregiver, the family or the one who needs the care.

Play martyr–Martyrdom is noble and had, maybe even still has its place in society.  However, your loved one needs you alive not sacrificing your own health and overall well being, in order to give care.

Grieve alone–Caregivers are people who get things done.  Taking time to share their feelings with others is rarely on the top of the “to do” list.  However, it is very important to not only allow yourself to feel your feelings, but also to share them in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

Fail to nurture relationships–Caregiving is consuming at times, and caregivers tend to become so wraped up in the job at hand that they don’t take the time to feed and nurture relationships with other family members and good friends.

Ignore spouse/significant others–I made a distinction because those who are closest to caregivers may suffer the most.   It’s hard to think about working to keep the flames of marriage going when you are concerned about your loved one 24/7.  Yet, nurturing a relationship on one hand may give you a moment of peace on another to help you as you battle Alzheimer’s disease.

Act reactively instead of proactively–It is so important to know what’s coming in terms of the disease.  Not just to know, but to know and understand how those stages will impact your level of care. Please see my series of posts on the Stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The role of the caregiver changes significantly as the illness progresses.

Fail to plan–I’ve said it before, “If yo fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”  Alzheimer’s care facility, standard long term care facility, in home care provided by family and friends, in home care supplemented by an agency, these are all options that should be carefully considered and not at the last minute when waiting lists and ease of admission may come to bear more heavily on the decision than they should.

Take life too seriouslyCaregiving is very serious (and sometimes depressing) business.  But, it takes much more energy to frown than it does to smile.  So, laugh, read something funny or watch something funny.  You are still alive and you can ENJOY life.

What do you think? What did you do wrong? What’s your blunder?  Maybe you got something right. Tell us about it, leave a comment

The Defining Moment

March 3, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Like a Snoopy cartoon, the teacher is speaking to you, but it sounds like white noise as your mind comes to grips with–the diagnosis.

The diagnosis becomes a turning point.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief from her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, explains the stages which apply to any life changing event, including the diagnosis of cancer. The stages are not simply about death, but reflect the loss of life as you know it.

1. Denial–refusal, either conscious or unconcious to accept the facts

2. Anger–at self or others

3. Bargaining–compromising with others or a faith system

4. Depression–a period of sadness, fear and regret

5. Acceptance–dealing with the facts

The important thing is not how you move through the stages, but that you continue forward momentum. That momentum is individual, bringing you to a place of coping and to a place of re-evaluation.

Walking out into the sunshine after the defining moment you may be struck with amazement that the world goes on. The clouds continue to aimlessly float by and the birds are still chirping in the trees. Nothing has changed, and yet every single thing has forever changed and will never be the same again.

While diagnosis is a defining moment, only you can decide if and how it will define you.

I have observed a unique phenomenon over the years–patients diagnosed with cancer who make a very personal decision to hide the diagnosis from anyone outside a very select circle of perhaps only one or two people. They generally only reveal the information if it becomes necessary.

I was on the support team of a mail carrier who came to our facility for in-patient treatment. He tooks large chunks of accumulated vacation time for each cycle of his chemo and recovery. This continued for several rounds of chemo, and in the course of my interaction with him he shared that no one at his place of employment knew of his cancer diagnosis. He had not only accepted his diagnosis but he was determined his diagnosis would not define him.

I’ve thought about this often.

Does diagnosis define you? Are you your diagnosis?

Does the world treat you different once they know you have cancer? Do those you once interacted with change as they become unable to cope with your reality? Is it fear of loss or confrontation with their own mortality? Perhaps it is both.

Once the point of acceptance is reached it is your choice how you will deal with the diagnosis. As a caregiver, friend, loved one or family member, I believe it is merely our responsibility to respect that decision.

A final thought. Do you treat you differently? Have your priorities shifted outside of the diagnosis? Once you reached that moment of acceptance how did you begin to see the world around you? Defining moments tend to be the sifters and sorters of life. People and events trickle throught the sieve and everything is re-evaluated.

I Have Cancer, and This is What I Want You to Know, pt. 3

February 15, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Recently, I have spent most of my day in intimate contact with a number of newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families. I’ve written this guide specifically from the view of the recently diagnosed for their friends, family and acquaintances of people with cancer. This is the third installment of the series — you can read part one here and part two here

The side effects are driving me crazy. Here’s an interesting tidbit: the treatments that I’m getting leave me with a weird taste in my mouth. Sometimes I just don’t feel like eating because of it. Also, during the days I have treatment, I might feel woozy and nauseous.

Please understand that it’s a very difficult thing to suddenly have to give up control of your body, and often times I am frustrated by my physical limitations. There are some days that just zap all my energy and it can take all of my strength to keep up with my daily activities. Sometimes I forget that this can be equally frustrating for you, too, especially if you’ve been trying to cheer me up by trying to take me out somewhere. Try this first: call, even if you’re not a big fan of using a phone. Come over and visit. I still want to you to be part of my life, we just need to work together and adjust.

Speaking of that, you should probably know that the things we used to talk about might not seem that important to me right now. I know, that seems contradictory to the idea of leading a normal life. It’s just that the kind of things that used to get us all worked up — the personality quirks about your significant other, the office gossip — might not seem as life-changing to me as it did before. I appreciate the effort that you’re making to help me go on with life as usual. It’s just that no one ever tells you that cancer can change your personality, too.

Don’t miss the next installment of the four-part series, “I Have Cancer, and This is What I Want You to Know.” Subscribe to our feed!

I Have Cancer, and This is What I Want You to Know – Pt. 2

February 13, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

This is the second installment of a continuing series for friends, family and acquaintances of people with cancer. You can read part one here.


Daily chores may be difficult for me. Treatments can leave me tired and groggy. I can be in a lot of pain. I’ve got a million things on my mind. Chemotherapy, pain medication and anesthesia can leave me in a drug-induced haze. But the world doesn’t revolve around me and my needs — do you want to help? Offer to clean my house. Pick up my kid from piano lessons. Grab some stamps for me at the post office. Sometimes I’ll ask you, and sometimes I won’t because I don’t want to impose. I would really appreciate it.

Just because I’m not in the hospital doesn’t mean that I’m not getting treatment. If I’m taking my chemotherapy or radiation treatment in an outpatient procedure, I can be visiting a clinic almost every day. This isn’t too bad if I’m being treated at a local cancer center — I can drive myself or find someone who can take me if I’m unable to provide my own transportation. But if I’m receiving treatment at a specialized cancer center, I might have to take up residence somewhere somewhere else, even out of state!

I may have difficulty holding down a traditional 9-to-5. My workplace might not allow me to take more than a few weeks of medical leave. Sometimes I might not even be in the right frame of mind to be a good employee. This can be difficult for me not just financially but emotionally.

As you can see, there’s a lot on my mind. But even though I may not be ready to share these feelings with you right now, I would really appreciate if you would be there when I am.

Don’t miss the next installment of the four-part series, “I Have Cancer, and This is What I Want You to Know.” Subscribe to our feed! 

20 Communities Where You Can Share Your Cancer Stories

February 6, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my friend’s recent cancer diagnosis in the last few days. I think I’m coming to realize that you or a person you love becomes sick, it’s natural reaction to feel as if you’re the only person in the world who has ever been through that situation before.

In the spirit of strength in numbers, I’m compiled 20 positive and supportive internet communities for cancer patients, survivors and their family and friends. I hope that you find them useful!

  1. I’m too Young for This!Aimed at young adults, this support community has blogs and social networks to help cancer patients meet up and share their stories.
  2. Out With Cancer – Specifically for gay and lesbians with cancer, this site is an excellent place to meet up with other members through their blogs and message boards. You can even write your own blog or chat in live support groups at any time.
  3. Right Health – This general health site has a cancer community where you can meet up with others in forums and discussion groups.
  4. Revolution Health – Another general health website, Revolution Health has an active cancer community that boasts discussion groups, blogs, personal stories, and even a  question board.
  5. WEGO Health – This portal for high-quality health information has a brand new cancer community. Add your story to their message boards!
  6. WebMD – Probably the most popular general health website, WebMD has a cancer health center that has specific information about many different types of cancer. Stop by their message boards and introduce yourself!
  7. Discovery Health – Best known for their documentary-style health programs, this television network’s companion website also has a cancer community.
  8. National Breast Cancer Foundation – While compiling this list, I tried not to focus on a specific type of cancer. However, the MyNBCF network is one of the most friendly and supportive groups that I’ve seen on the net.
  9. American Cancer Society – If you’re looking for information, or if you are a patient, family member, friend, or health provider, don’t miss the ACS’s message boards. It’s one of the only communities out there that provides expert guidance to their members.
  10. Canadian Cancer Society – Sometimes all you really want is to talk to someone who understands. Check out the CCS’s one-on-one, group and telephone support resources.
  11. My Cancer -Leroy Sievers is blogging about his cancer, and he has an incredibly active community of fellow cancer patients and survivors.
  12. PC-REF – The Prostate Cancer Research and Education Foundation hosts a live call-in show with Dr. Israel Barken that you can listen to on the internet.
  13. Experience Project – Looking for a place to vent? Trying to find someone who’s going through what you’re going through? The Experience Project has some interesting discussions going on relating to cancer, including I Have Cancer, I am Afraid of Cancer, I Have Lost People I Love to Cancer, I Survived Cancer and I Hate Cancer.
  14. MD Anderson Cancer Center – The chaplaincy program at MDA hosts a Spiritual Pathways community message board.
  15. Fertile Hope – Aimed at cancer patients or survivors who have had medical treatments that present a risk of infertility, this community offers support and answers from women who are going through the same thing. The group is fairly new, but immensely useful.
  16. Re-Mission – Re-Mission is a video game aimed at children and teens to educate them about cancer, and the companion website has a thriving community, complete with blogs and a message board.
  17. Strength For Caring – While not specifically aimed for cancer caregivers, this is an excellent site for connecting with others going through the unique challenges of supporting loved ones health conditions.
  18. WikiCancer – For the web 2.0 savvy, WikiCancer shares stories, advice, and support from individuals going under treatment and those who have already completed it.
  19. CancerCompass – This message board includes sub-topics for all types of cancers and also general groups to discuss nutrition and after-treatment care.
  20. Beliefnet – Because my husband and I both work in fields where we are in direct contact with individuals who have either just learned of their diagnosis or are in treatment for it, we routinely asked by patients and their families to join them in prayer. Beliefnet, an inter-denominational website focusing on faith, spirituality and inspiration, offers a cancer support group where you can exchange prayer requests and ask the tough questions.

Am I missing your favorite cancer community? Let me know in the comments!

Alzheimer’s guilt and stress: how you can deal with it

January 15, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Alzheimer’s disease often brings stress and guilt. Not necessarily for the patient. Not for the professional caregiver either, since they are experienced and trained not to be bothered by these things. No, I mean that Alzheimer’s disease often brings stress and guilt for the patient’s loved ones.

Certainly, when your family member is distressed, you wonder if you did something wrong. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you did something they didn’t like, but you had no choice. Maybe you made a mistake, but everybody does. Maybe it’s too late to fix it. We all need to learn to deal with guilt for things we really are guilty of, instead of shoving it aside. But you may not be guilty of anything.

Family members feel particularly guilty that they aren’t giving enough to their loved one. They feel guilty that they don’t visit enough, or that they don’t provide enough care. They feel guilty if they put their loved one in an Alzheimer’s care facility, assisted living center or nursing home.

The truth is that, for most Alzheimer’s patients, the primary caregiver is a relative, usually a daughter. I was unusual. I took care of my grandmother. She didn’t always like that, but nobody else was as available as I was. I was single, self-employed, and able to move. Nobody frivolously puts their mother in a nursing home. In fact, strictly speaking, nursing homes are used as places to get well. Once the hip fracture heals, the patient usually goes home.

But, as we reported in our article Reasons to consider an Alzheimer’s care facility, it isn’t always possible to care for your relative in their own home. And moving them to your home, once they’re already confused about where they are, will not make them less confused. Better for them to humbly make that decision while decisions are easier to make. Alzheimer’s does not make decisions easier.

If we all lived on farms with large families, Alzheimer’s might be easier to deal with. In Amish communities, parents expect to move someday into the adjoining “daadi haus” (grandfather house) while their son and grandchildren live in the main house. Children and grandchildren expect to care for their elders someday. If my grandmother had had a “daadi haus” next door, she might have moved into it, but she didn’t. By the time her children began begging her to move in with them, she had been in one house too long, in one neighborhood, and didn’t want to move.

Sometimes, today, there is no good solution. Don’t feel guilty.

What Your Friends and Family With Cancer Want You to Know

October 26, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

I met my friend M. while she was doing an undergraduate summer internship in a cancer research at the university where I worked. A year later, she joined my school as a PhD student and I trained her when she did a research rotation in my laboratory. About this time last year, she had a night on the town cut short by sudden, uncontrollable bleeding. She went home feeling pretty sick, and later that night, her boyfriend rushed her to the emergency room. Later on that week, she was told that that she had cancer.

We were friends — not best friends, but close enough where we regularly shared stories about our wacky families and our mutual fear that a life at the bench might not be for us, met for lunch, and watched basketball games when we could. In the months that followed, we got a lot closer. I visited her in her emergency hospitalizations, helped her sort through the business of hospital billing, and drove her to her specialist appointments four hours away at Johns Hopkins University. We even ended up being interviewed for a “Dateline” special together for a documentary on cancer patients!

In the time that she wasn’t in the hospital or at home recovering from procedures, we spent a lot of time talking. She told me all about how she wanted her life to be as normal as possible, so whenever I called her, we talked about the most mundane things like the latest gossip about our coworkers and the quirks about our bosses.

The thing that she didn’t know was that it was actually really hard for me to act like things were normal. I didn’t know why, but sometimes the prospect of talking to her was sometimes really daunting for me. Sometimes I wouldn’t respond to her email and phone calls right away. I hated it because I wanted to be a good friend to her, but I didn’t know how to deal with what I was feeling. I’m ashamed to say that the reason was that I just felt uncomfortable being reminded with the fact that she had cancer — and it could have been me!

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A Granddaughter’s Perspective on Surviving Cancer

August 14, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Laurie Marbas

When my grandmother, Grams, came to live with us in 1997 she was depressed and a shell of person that I had known in my childhood. She came to us because she was leaving a violent marriage of 20 years. The Grams of my youth was vibrant and energetic, spending many summers with my younger sister and I shopping or playing miniature golf. But that cold day in April of 1997 I saw a sad hunched over figure in a wheelchair being wheeled off the airplane. I almost did not recognize her.

Grams settled into our home, spending many hours with my young daughter, Emily, looking at the stars and discussing what to wish for. Over the course of the next 7 months her divorce was finalized and we moved from Ohio to Texas closer to my mother. By this point I was beginning to see shimmers of happiness and energy from Grams, but on occasion she would fall back into the depths of depression. She struggled with being dependent on us for everything and pushed away opportunities of socializing with others outside the family.

By 2001 I had begun my third year of medical school and my grandmother watched the youngest of my 3 children, Gabriel. In October she called to tell me that her mammogram had showed an irregularity and she was told by her doctor that it would need further evaluation. My heart sank as I had a gut feeling that it was going to be bad news. I spoke to many physicians asking which surgeon they would take their mother to and Dr. Ronaghan’s name came up more than once. We had her referred and Dr. Ronaghan gave us the grave news. She indeed had what looked like breast cancer and biopsy would be the only positive answer. Grams took the news as if you told her that she had a simple cold. My assumption was either she was in denial, had completely lost her mind, or extremely stoic. I, on the other hand, was falling to pieces inside. The thought of losing my grandmother made me nauseous, but I knew she was counting on me to be there for her. Little did I know that I was going to be leaning more on my grandmother during this process than she on me. A few days later she had a lumpectomy which revealed lobular carcinoma and would need further surgery. Grams remained enthusiastic and positive about her outcome, she almost seemed happier than I had seen her in 4 years. I didn’t know what to make of it, but then again things flew by so fast that I didn’t have time to process it.

She went on to have a bilateral mastectomy with positive lymph nodes on the right side. So, we weren’t out of the woods yet, she would require chemotherapy and radiation. Chemo would begin in December, 2-3 times per week for several weeks. By the tenth day her hair began to fall out in clumps and we began looking for wigs. One night she asked me to shave her head so she would not have to deal with her hair falling out anymore. I had cut hair many times, even Grams’, but this request made me anxious and hesitant, almost to the verge of tears. It made me feel as though the cancer was winning, she was losing herself to the enemy. It was taking her beautiful thick white mane that made her my Grams. Well, we went to the kitchen and I plugged in the electric razor. I stared at her for a long time until she prodded me saying, “Laurie, it will be alright, don’t worry. Anyway, I am hoping that it will come back curly!” At that moment I began to realize that the cancer was not going to win, because my Grams was strong and positive in heart and mind. I was looking at the Grams of many years ago, vivacious and alive! Yes, alive…she hadn’t died yet. Wake up Laurie and join the fight! I went on to shave her head of course after we entertained the idea of a mohawk.

She continued with the chemotherapy and had good and bad days of vomiting and fatigue but her optimistic attitude never wavered. The children had adjusted to having a Grams without hair, the boys, Jonathan and Gabriel, loved to run around in her wigs. In preschool Jonathan was asked to draw a picture of his family. He drew his mom, dad, brother, sister, and Grams. We all had hair except one figure had no hair and was holding something in her hand. When asked who this was and what were they were holding, Jonathan promptly replied, “That is Grams holding her wig.” As the story was relayed to her, Grams eyes twinkled as she replied, “Well, it’s too hot to wear a wig all the time.” Grams went on to have six weeks of radiation therapy that resulted in severe burns across her chest. She was in pain most of the time and we did what we could to make her comfortable. She never cried or felt sorry for herself. She always asked me how my day went, always worrying that I wasn’t eating right, getting enough sleep, or working too many hours. All the meanwhile she was in the middle of a life and death battle with an ever imposing enemy. She prayed and read her Bible daily, always reassuring the rest of us that she would make it.

Indeed, 5 years later my Grams is still here without any signs of reoccurrence of the cancer. She taught me the power of positive thinking, humility, love of family and faith in God. I can only hope and pray to be a fraction of the woman that is my Grams. And yes, her hair came back curly.

Laurie Marbas, MD is a Family Medicine physician currently serving in the United States Air Force.

Article Source:

Helping Someone With Cancer

August 13, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Charles Kassotis

Do you know someone with cancer? A cancer diagnosis can be crippling in itself, inciting fear and anxiety over an unknown or perhaps dreaded future. Victims worry about their health, their looks, and their families when a doctor pronounces this terrible sentence. If a friend or family member is struggling with one of the many forms of cancer, your support and encouragement are likely to be most welcome.

But how do you help someone who has cancer? There are several things you can do to make your friend or loved one feel more at ease.

1. Treat the person the same as always. Don’t approach her gingerly, as though she might break or fade away. Nor should you overdo it, however, by talking too much or roughhousing with children who may be physically fragile. Just treat the person the same as you would if he had not been diagnosed with this condition. Of course, if the diagnosis is grim, you need adapt your attitude accordingly and not gloss over serious implications.

2. Offer practical assistance. As you have time, run errands or bring in a home-cooked meal. Grocery shopping, letter mailing, and kid drop-offs at sporting events can save the sick person’s time and energy. Depending on how well you are acquainted with the victim, you might want to come over a few hours each week to clean house, baby-sit, or cook meals for freezing.

3. Be an encouragement. Send a funny get-well card or an inspiring note. Drop off a humorous video or suggest praying together before you leave. Using discretion, you might want to let others know about the ill person’s indisposition so they can possibly help out, too.

4. Be willing to listen. Sometimes those facing a serious problem like cancer, especially when a terminal diagnosis has been given, may simply want to reminisce about the past, discuss future plans, or share difficult emotions. Just being available to listen in person, by telephone, or via the Internet can provide a beautiful source of support. Don’t push or pry, however. Wait until the person is ready to talk.

5. If the situation warrants, consider donating financial support. A single mother with two fatherless children may need to get connected to social service agencies. Or she may have some general support already, but lack a little extra money for holidays or birthdays. You may want to send a card with a $20 check that could help pay for special occasions or real needs, needs, like medication, above and beyond any insurance coverage.

6. Provide transportation. If the person grows weak or is unable to drive and family members work at jobs that keep them from driving the sufferer to appointments, ask if you can take the person when you are available. Getting around is one of the greatest challenges facing people who become immobile with serious illnesses.

Whatever your circumstances, chances are you can offer some kind of help to a person who is struggling with cancer. It will certainly be appreciated!

For more information about helping someone who has cancer or to get help for a loved one or yourself, visit Cancer Directory at

Article Source:

When someone you know has cancer

May 3, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

Great Advice!


If someone close to you has cancer, it’s often hard to know what to say or do. Dr. Richard J. Shaw of Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford offers these tips to help make the situation more comfortable for everyone involved:

• Instead of simply telling someone who has cancer to “get well soon,” or “stay strong,” ask them how they feel, whether they want to talk about their experiences, and how you can help them.

• Don’t be afraid to talk about your own feelings, but try to do so calmly. You don’t want the patient to have to console you.

• The disease is not a forbidden discussion topic. Don’t be afraid to say the word “cancer” and directly address the issue when talking to someone who has it. To most patients, it’s a relief to talk to someone who is comfortable with the topic.

• There can be a lot of secrecy surrounding the disease, and that often affects families. Shaw suggests that families see therapists together and that parents should include all family members in discussions so other children do not feel left out or worried about their sibling.

• Both the cancer patient and his or her family should look into support groups. Shaw said that some patients (and their family members) don’t want to share all the details of their experience because they don’t want to burden the person with whom they are speaking. However, group sessions with people who have had similar experiences often help.

— Lena Wong,

Mountain View High School

[SOURCE: | 04/25/2006 | When someone you know has cancer

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.