1st November 2019

10 practical ways to support someone with lung cancer

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There are a million ways to show someone with lung cancer you care. You don’t need to speak to show you’re there. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

As part of our Follow my Lead campaign for lung cancer awareness month, we asked people with lung cancer to share their experiences of what helped them. Here are some of the most popular answers…

Go with them to their appointments

Hospital appointments can be quite overwhelming, particularly when someone is first diagnosed. There is a lot of information to process at a time when they are very emotional.

It can be very helpful to have someone who can try and be objective there to write down what is being said and what needs to be done so they can return to it when they are ready.

My mum is a saint. She comes to stay with us, so she’s always there for my monthly oncology appointments. She’ll make notes because I can’t always take in everything that’s said.


Be what they need, not what you want

It’s difficult, but you have to follow their lead. They might make choices about their treatment or how they deal with their diagnosis that you don’t agree with. It’s important to let them do it how they want to, not how you want them to do it. Don’t judge.

Listen to what they want and how they’re feeling. Accept changeable moods and don’t take offence if they don’t always feel as positive as you think they should.

Try and keep things as normal as possible. Many people who completed the survey just wanted to be treated normally.

Don’t forget to include them

Never presume they won’t want to do something, or that they’ll be too ill to join in.

Ask them, but make it clear that they can say no or change their mind at any point. Just be sensitive about planning too far ahead and be realistic about what they can do.

It means a lot when my ex-colleagues still include me.


Offer lifts so they don’t have to ask

People don’t like being a burden, so make it easier for them and offer to take them to where they need to go – be it the shops or to their appointments.

Thoughtful gifts

Sending thoughtful gifts is a great way to show you care. Think about what is going on with them at that point in time and try and think of a gift that could help.

I got sent audio books to listen to during my long chemotherapy sessions.


Bend their ear

Many people shared that their friends were reluctant to share their own problems or concerns with them. However, the overwhelming response is that they want to know what’s going on in their lives – good and bad.

Friends are sometimes less likely to tell me their problems, feeling like their troubles are nothing compared to mine. But if that was the case nobody would confide anything in me. I still want to be a friend to people.


Release the pressure

The outpouring of love from everyone is lovely, but can be overwhelming. You can be left feeling like you need to respond to everyone and this becomes a tiring chore. If you send them a message, let them know they don’t need to respond.

Remember their partner

People have made sure to ask my wife how she is too. This is very much appreciated as she is also obviously affected.


Help with chores

You know yourself when you’re tired, the thought of cooking or hoovering is enough to tip you over the edge. Preparing freezable meals that they can pop in the oven, doing a pile of ironing or picking their children up from school are all ways to lessen the load.

My dad came every week to walk my dog when I was going through chemo.


Do things that will make life easier

Do anything you can think of that can relieve anxiety, make them smile or simply make things easier. For Sandra, her hairdresser offered to come round to her home to shave her hair off when needed, instead of her having to come into the salon. This would understandably be an incredibly emotional thing to do and doing it in the privacy of her home, rather than in a public place made it that little bit easier.