Support – That Vital Ingredient

Cancer is a unique disease in many ways. One of them is that it affects the entire family and friends. Another is the fact that support is a vital factor in the recovery process. Therefore, this article is directed toward the family and friends of cancer patients.

You are not alone. The American Cancer Society estimates that one out of three Americans will be stricken with cancer. Nearly every family will be touched.

The fundamental thread to remember is that the patient is a living being. The diagnosis of disease may have changed their focus, but it has not changed their likes and dislikes. Like every human being, they have interests they want to continue sharing. Be there for them and with them.

Sorrow is for the dead. Concern and caring is for the living. The worst thing you can do is avoid the patient. Be with them. Your actions do not have to be negative, submissive or passive. They should be positive, active and helpful.

Guide for Cancer Supporters is about actions! Actions you can take from the beginning and continue all the way through a cancer patient’s recovery. What is important is to do the things that will really help a patient. Make them feel better now and in the long run. Try to help them have a better chance of succeeding in the fight against their disease.

In order to be a true helper, start out trying to understand how the patient feels. That is not what they say or how they act, but their true deep down feelings. To do this, you must understand what they are going through.

They have been told they have cancer. It is impossible to appreciate the gravity of that short statement if you have not yourself been told this. Cancer is the most feared disease in America. All our life, we have been raised to understand that cancer kills. We have been told that it is a horrible disease accompanied by pain, suffering and treatments that are probably worse than the disease itself. Even though we might not recall them at the moment, our subconscious recalls individuals who have had cancer, all of whom suffered and died. Supposedly cancer means pain and imminent death.

This is probably the first time the patient has had to seriously face their own mortality. Sure, we are all told from childhood that someday we will all die. But that is someday. Now they are told that someday is here. Wow! No matter what the age of the patient, it is like trying to get a child to leave a game arcade. They want to play just one more game. It is natural to think about dying, but the important thing is to concentrate on living.

Guide for Cancer Supporters is a book of suggestions of how a supporter can improve the quality of life for a cancer patient and improve their chances of successfully fighting the disease. It is designed to help the casual acquaintance, the primary supporter, or those in between. Written in easily understood language, it contains checklists of specific actions to take.

Guide for Cancer Supporters is available absolutely free, postpaid, by calling

800-433-0464 or 816-854-5050 or e-mail us at

2 Replies to “Support – That Vital Ingredient”

  1. Hello,
    I am a licensed professional counselor who is working with several people who have different types of cancer they are living with. Before the IRS moved to its current location, it was located at the Bannister Fed’l Complex, which has now been designated a Fed’l clean-up site because of the nuclear bomb components that were made out there during the 1950s and 1960s and even into the 70s. There are all sorts of cancers that have affected Marines, GSA employees and IRS – because they were located by Bendix/Allied Signal. My question is this….. at the suggestion of 2 of my clients, I’m getting ready to offer a support group for IRS employees who are dealing w/ cancer of any type. My support groups here on campus are limited to 30 minutes because that is the length of their lunches or dinners. Do you have suggestions for me? Should I contact the Bloch cancer center for information? There are about 5,000 employees here during “high season” (Jan-May) and it drops to about 3,000 the rest of the year. Thank you for any help.

    Margaret Ragan, M.A., LPC, CEAP
    On-site EAP Counselor

    Internal Revenue Service Center – Kansas City
    333 W. Pershing Rd. – Mail Stop P2 – 1522
    Kansas City, MO 64108
    telephone: (816) 291-9758
    fax: (816) 292-6001

    1. Margaret, I have sent you a longer reply separate of this online message. If support group leaders need any of the materials we offer free through the Bloch Cancer Hotline, they just need to call 800-433-0464 or locally in Kansas City – 816-854-5050 and request them. In Kansas City, volunteers are willing to come to your group meetings to share their experiences and offer hope to group members. I am sending you a sample packet of some of the materials we have to offer. Of course, the best we offer are our survivor volunteers willing to speak to a newly diagnosed cancer person or caregiver. We have over 500 volunteers who have survived one or more cancers. Please contact us, we’d love to help.
      Vangie Rich, Executive Director

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