When someone you know has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you may feel helpless or unsure of how to best support them.
Nicole Lise Feingold, MA, director of Patient Services at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), said it’s important to simply “speak from the heart, be authentic and empathetic. By taking this genuine approach you will be a tremendous support.”
Here are simple ways you can make a difference in the life of someone who has pancreatic cancer.
Assist with transportation: If you live nearby, offer to take them to their doctors’ appointments or to do errands such as grocery shopping or going to the post office. In instances where you’re unable to assist them with transportation, scheduling a Lyft, Uber or taxi can be helpful.
Share Patient Central as a resource: Help them get free, personalized and comprehensive disease information and resources by telling them about PanCAN’s Patient Central.
Prepare or purchase meals: Pancreatic cancer often affects the diet and appetite of patients. It’s helpful to prepare or purchase meals, but be sure they will be able to digest them easily. Ask them about dietary restrictions and what the best options are. You can also visit Cooking. Comfort. Care for ideas on healthy meals to prepare.
Help with household chores: The patient may struggle with everyday tasks that are often overlooked. Walking their dog, taking out the trash and paying bills on time are a few of many tasks they may need assistance with.
Be a friend: Simply being there for the patient to lean on is helpful. Talk to them about favorite memories, their favorite television show, current events or music they like. Help them feel “normal” instead of secluded. This can be done over the phone if you are unable to be there in person.
Be an advocate or volunteer: Support them by raising awareness and funds. Participate in your local PurpleStride, the walk to end pancreatic cancer. Go with them if they’re close by – experiencing the community and support of others affected by pancreatic cancer can provide hope and inspiration. If you do not live near the patient or a PurpleStride, get involved as an advocate or volunteer.
Put yourself in their shoes: An important question to ask is, what would I want if I were in their situation? Some patients may be reluctant to ask for things they need for fear of being a burden. Volunteer to complete tasks without being asked, bring their favorite meal to the hospital, assist their kids with homework and help them do things they wish they could do.
A member of PanCAN’s Survivor & Caregiver Network recently said, “People often ask, ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ As a caregiver, I found myself often not taking people up on that because I was so caught up in my dad’s illness. Instead, I now make it a point to say to a friend, ‘Here’s how I’m going to help you.’”
For comprehensive pancreatic cancer information, resources and support, contact Patient Central.