How a person reacts and responds to a cancer diagnosis can range from shock and sadness to denial or despair. Coping with such a life-changing event is never easy, but there are things family and friends can do to support a loved one who has been told they have bowel cancer.

 Bowel Cancer Australia Nurse Fiona shares 12 easy ways you can show a friend or loved one with bowel cancer that you are truly there for them in their time of need.

Bowel cancer patients can often feel too overwhelmed to ask for what they need, so avoid asking them to ‘let you know’ if there’s anything you can do for them.

Instead, take the initiative and offer to do specific things, such as:

  1. Order take-out or prepare a homemade meal and have it delivered.
  2. Check out websites like “Gather My Crew” which provide easy tools to help create rosters and schedules so that friends and family can work together to help carry the load.
  3. Send a text when you’re at the supermarket and ask if they need anything.
  4. Drop in for a chat if they feel up for it and just listen. Don’t give advice, don’t try to be cheery — just let them talk.
  5. Invite them out for a coffee or lunch date, regularly. Let your friend guide the conversation and be okay with silence if that’s what the person needs. Be ready to just be there.
  6. Offer to be the “communication person” that updates others about your loved one’s progress.
  7. Let them know you’re “on call” for emergencies.
  8. Provide a ride to chemo and keep them company during the treatment, and if you can, commit to giving a ride on a regular basis throughout treatment.
  9. If your friend has pets, offer to come by and take them for a walk or to the groomers.
  10. If your loved one has kids, offer to babysit, do a school pick-up, or have them over for a sleepover.
  11. Send a quick email, text, or message saying you’re thinking of them and be sure to add, “No need to respond” to the end of your message. They’ll appreciate hearing from you without feeling the need to do anything in return.
  12. Give them a good book, some magazines, or a television series they might enjoy during low times.

Remember to still be there a few months after the diagnosis. You can make this easier for yourself by setting a calendar alert to remind you to check in with a quick hello or offer of help on a regular basis.

Most importantly, remember to respect your friend or loved one’s choices when it comes to their requests for help, even if they are different to what you would want for yourself or what you would have expected them to want.

A bowel cancer diagnosis is something no one should go through alone.

Bowel Cancer Australia offers a free Helpline to anyone seeking information or support for themselves or someone they know that has been affected by the disease.

To find out more, visit our website or call 1800 555 494.