Part I is for the primary caregiver detailing the actions to take to truly help the cancer patient. Part II is a brief description of medical treatments available to a cancer patient and definitions, so you can educate yourself and be able to discuss them intelligently. Part III is designed to allow the casual supporter to be comfortable and constructive.
Chapter 9 includes a check list of specific helpful hints for the primary supporter in taking care of oneself.
If you are the primary supporter, such as a spouse, parent, child or closest friend, you will want to thoroughly read Part I and possibly Part II. If you are a casual acquaintance, you will want to concentrate on Part III.
The American Cancer Society predicts that one out of every three Americans will be stricken with cancer. Nearly every family will be affected. The chances are sooner or later you will appreciate suggestions on how to approach and communicate with the patient and be truly helpful as well as how to cope yourself.
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 to avoid the patient. Be with them. Your actions do not have to be negative, submissive or passive. They should be positive, active and helpful.
Remember, cancer is a word, not a sentence.
This book is dedicated to our three daughters who were by our side continuously during the year of strenuous treatments, to our wonderful friends who were with us when we needed them, to the wonderful nurses, social workers, ministers and rabbis and other care givers who were an integral part of our support group, and particularly to "our" doctor who cured Dick from lung cancer. He knew the odds but he also knew the wisdom of bringing in specialists in the various disciplines to do what they are best at. He was like the conductor of a great orchestra. Not only did he cure Dick but he taught him a great deal about cancer, life and living along the way. He allowed Dick to fight to live rather than to wait to die. There is no doubt that he, like every other oncologist, fails to successfully treat a patient from time to time. I hope he realizes that he gave them true hope in trying to fight and restored a quality to their life, the most important factor there is.