As a professional capper of more than six years, it has been my privilege both to meet and witness loyal groups of friends and familites flock to loved ones during chemotherapy. Often, I'm asked what is best for the patient. Here are some guidelines to consider.
To Visit or Not to Visit?
You've just learned that your friend, colleague or male acquaintance (yes, it happens!) has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will need chemo. You want to help – but how?
The initial urge might be to visit the infusion suite to keep your friend company and show your support. That's fine in small doses. The flip side is a group of friends and loved ones crammed into a tiny room to prove their solidarity and concern. It's a nice idea in theory but is not necessarily in the patient's best interest.
Patients need to rest on days when they receive chemo. They may be given Benadryl or something similar to thwart allergic reactions. When guests are present, patients typically feel the need to entertain them and subsequently work hard to overcome their drug-induced drowsiness. Despite good intentions, chatty friends who spend multiple hours in a chemo facility can detract from a restful environment for the patient.
Food for Thought
A better approach is to stop by for an hour or so with lunch. Bring healthy snacks or small portions in case the patient is nauseous. Be sensitive to smells as well. Non-sugary drinks are also welcome as hydration is important. Short visits are always appreciated. Take care to be mindful of the patient's needs, and your goal of supportiveness will be achieved.
If the patient has chosen to save his or her hair with Penguin Cold Caps, avoid morning visits altogether. Give the patient time to settle in and adjust to the new experience of chemo and capping. Again, a drop-by at lunchtime or later will undoubtedly be met with enthusiasm and gratitude.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Let's not forget that a financial gift of any size can ease stress at an already difficult time. It can help defray capping costs or can be put to use in other meaningful ways. Medical bills are often staggering, and patients may need to work abbreviated schedules during treatment. Gifting money is a generous gesture that is sometimes overlooked.
What should you do when a patient is well off or a gift of money simply feels inappropriate? Make a donation in their honor and pay it forward for others.
Small gestures and little kindnesses make big statements to loved ones undergoing chemotherapy.
Claudia Falzarano e Right Arm Inc. e www.rightarminc.com e 917-327-7091
Join the chemotherapy support group to join in on the discussion.