Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 30

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1

3

Manage
Logistics

A person going through active treatment is very overwhelmed,
and coordinating things can be difficult. As a friend, you can
offer to arrange for care, meal drop-offs or transportation
to appointments.
You could offer to be the point person who sends news to close
friends and family members. This can be done through a website
like CaringBridge or something as simple as a group email, text
conversation or WhatsApp chat. Sending updates like, "She just
came out of surgery," so the patient isn't left answering a lot of
texts and emails can be really helpful.

Ask About Finances

Money is an uncomfortable
topic to talk about. But if you
are close to the person and feel
comfortable, you can ask, "How
are you financially-do you need
help? Are you going to work? Are
you going to take time off ? Are
you going to need some help with
bills, with living expenses? Would
you like me to set up a GoFundMe
(fundraising website) for you and
spread the word?"

What to Say
to Someone
with Cancer
People would ask, "Can I
drop off food?" and that can feel
overwhelming, because then the
patient has to manage the details.
There is a website called Meal Train
that helps you set up and organize
a schedule for people to sign up to
bring food, or you can just set up a
simple shared spreadsheet. A friend
can help others figure out times
when meals might be especially
helpful, such as after a chemo treatment, when the patient is wiped out.
For people going through chemo,
there's so much trickiness with
food. Chemo gives the person low
immunity, so there's more concern
with foodborne illness. Refrigerated
leftovers need to be thrown out
after three or four days, so if you're
overseeing the process for a friend,
you can remind people to write the
date on the container when the food
was prepared. When I was going
through chemo, I also couldn't eat
certain things, like sushi and deli
meat. It's a lot of managing, so if
the person with cancer can just tell
all the guidelines to you and you
enforce it, that's easier.

Be honest and straightforward. As ovarian
cancer survivor Jennifer
Garam says, "It's OK to
say, 'I can't imagine what
you are going through,
but I want to be here
for you,' or even, 'I don't
know what to say.'"
Remind the person of
your support. "One of
my friends says, 'Let me
know what I can do to
support you,' and I like
that, because it feels like
she is there for anything-
emotional or logistical
support," Garam says.
Don't compare medical
woes (unless it's cancer).
"People would try to
connect, comparing my
cancer to their biggest
medical problem, but if
it's not cancer, it's not
just like that," Garam says.
Skip sad stories. Telling
a person with cancer
about a person you knew
who died of cancer is
upsetting and unhelpful,
Garam says.

4

Be Their Plus-One
at the Doctor

When patients are emotional and
feeling overwhelmed, it's nice to
have someone there at appointments with them, to take notes and
just be there.
When I was going through chemotherapy, I created my "Chemo
Squad" spreadsheet. I asked three
people to take shifts during each
chemo session, which lasted about
six hours, so it didn't put the burden
on one person to be there the whole
time-everyone could show up for
two hours. I made the shared document myself, but this is definitely
something a friend can do, too. You
could make sure all the slots are
filled and send confirmation emails.
[Unfortunately, visitors may not
be permitted during the COVID-19
pandemic. But you might be able to
provide this support network virtually through video calls and texts.]

WINTER 2020 VIM & VIGOR

V1_VVWI2088_28-31_PatientStory.indd 30

10/26/20 11:29 AM

ICONS BY GETTY IMAGES; PHOTO BY PENELOPE LOVE

2

Figure Out Food



Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 3
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 4
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 5
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 30
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Cover4
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