Find the best team for you. Choose a doctor based not only on the recommendations of professionals, but also on the suggestions of other people with cancer. If you have a choice, visit each doctor once before deciding which one will work best for you.
There is no such thing as a silly question. Most people find it helpful to write down questions before a visit to the doctor. Bring a friend with you to see the doctor; your friend can help you ask questions as well as remember and understand new information.
Take your time. When you have an important decision to make such as choice of a doctor, treatment, or surgery, think it out and confer with friends and others you trust.
Consider joining a support group. The people there are likely to have had experiences similar to yours; they can give you reassurance as well as important facts based on firsthand experience.
Take good care of your body. Find out about good nutrition, relaxation techniques, and anything else that helps your body heal.
Treat yourself well. Celebrate triumphs, no matter how small they may seem. Find any excuse to reward yourself with a massage, walk in the park, or something else which will give you peace of mind and will make your life better. [Editor’s note: Sometimes I celebrate Tuesday with a piece of chocolate.]
Food is love. When taking food to your friend (and to the family, too), ask what they would like and can eat. Use a dish that does not need to be returned.
Make trips fun. Combine a required trip to a physician or therapist with a fun activity. Make arrangements to go out to lunch, stroll a mall, or do whatever he or she would like to do.
Keep your friendship a two-way street. Although you will no doubt spend time listening to your friend, talking about your own life (both good and bad) will allow your friend to feel needed and to contribute something in return.
Touch or hug your friend at every appropriate opportunity. People who are sick rarely get enough hugs. Cancer is not contagious. Greeting cards are another way to express your love; avoid “Get Well Soon” messages unless that is is the case for sure.
Use the same language as your friend uses. If he says cancer, you can say cancer. If he says tumor or malignancy, use those words.
Everybody’s battery needs recharging. If you know someone caring for a loved one with cancer, take over his duties for an afternoon to give him a chance to do whatever he wants to do. If you are the caregiver, give yourself adequate time off; leave any guilt you might have behind and have a good time.