Tips, experiences and inspiration for supporting those with serious illness

Megan McAuliffe

Medical expertise is vital when you’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, but on its own it won’t be enough, you’ll need a cancer support network at home made up of friends and family.

A diagnosis such as cancer can bring a lot of stress into a person’s life, however having a strong private support network can help people cope better.

Build a team rather than relying on one person to help you. Asking several people for support will eleviate the stress that can mount up on one person.

Play to people’s strengths. If you have a friend who is really well organised, ask if they can help you come up with a schedule to work out how people can help around your treatments. Ask another friend who is a whizz in the kitchen to help prepare some meals which you can freeze until needed. And your closest friends and family members will be the ones you’ll need at your side. But sometimes, those who aren’t so emotionally affected, might be better equipped to take on a practical role such as asking questions during appointments that you might forget later on.

It’s really important to figure out what you need, and ask for help from your cancer support network. If you don’t give guidance on how others can support you, they may do things that you really don’t want.

Figure out what support you need. Do you want help with the kids, or do you need someone to give you a lift to your treatments. Or you might just need a friend to go shopping or to the movies with, to bring some normality back into your life.

 Decide what you need and ask for it. And if you can’t bring yourself to do that, appoint a friend or family member to do the asking for you.