Tips to for visiting someone with cancer


I had the mate of a someone who recently suffered the loss of a loved one to cancer suggest that I add a few tips for visiting a cancer patient. I am sure I will need the comments of many of you to make this of any use for all of us.

One important thing is to be very careful about wearing colognes, after shaves, etc. You need to keep the use of these down to a very light scent, if any. Most cancer patients in active treatment suffer from nausea.  Another side effect their treatment can cause is both   an acute sense of smell and it often interprets it as a very bad smell. These two things combined aggravate their nausea.

Cancer patients and probably most ill patients are often very tired. Their rest is important.  We need to be sensitive to this when visiting. Long visits can be too much for them. Watch for cues that they need to take a nap. Most of the time the patient will not say, “I have to nap now”.  However, you can see them looking sleepy, or getting restless. This is your cue to leave. If you have driven a long distance just tell him or her that you are going to leave for a while and will come back. Encourage them to try to rest while you are gone. You can then go to the cafeteria and return 30 – 45 minutes later.

If you know of something your friend or relative really likes to eat take them in a little piece of it. It can be kept in the refrigerator if needed. This can be dessert or an actual meal. Limit it to just one or two pieces so there is not a problem of  having too much around.

Phone calls are often very welcome. These calls are not too exhausting and they really break up their day. I know my husband loved to have visitors, but in between them he would call people up and pass the time that way.  Share your good news with them and even scripture that has blessed you. They really do not need to hear upsetting news!

Please do not ask “how much time do the doctors say you have?”  This has actually been asked to others before. Things like that are very personal and of course sensitive to talk about. If they want to talk about it, they will be the ones to bring it up to you.

Be very aware of your own health when visiting. Do not go if you have a cold or feel like you are coming down with an illness. Cancer patients are very susceptible to your illnesses and they could actually be fatal to them.

It is nice to take a magazine along to leave with them.

When a man and wife came to visit my husband, often the wife would invite me to go to the snack bar with them just for a coffee and to give me a break and/or fellowship.  Just taking the patient’s wife down the hall to the lounge is nice and may help her to feel free to share things that she really would not want to in front of her husband.

I am sure these are just a few of many things you readers have learned. Please share you comments and suggestions that will be of a help to others.  Thank you. Keep up the good job I am sure you are doing for you friend or loved one. 🙂

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