Many people don’t realise that it’s not only the individual that has cancer than needs physical help and emotional support. The family does too.
Children at school talk. And children can be cruel – and thoughtless. Even little children know that cancer kills. Probably most of them don’t know that you can also survive cancer. The children of your friend may know of someone’s mommy or daddy who died from cancer. Now they hear that their own mommy has cancer – and whenever they walk into the room, the adults stop talking!
Open the subject with the adult members of the family. Ask how they’re coping. Is there something you can do? Offer to bring a meal round. Ask if you can help with the washing. I recently discovered a husband that didn’t know how to operate the washing machine when his wife was in hospital so used the laundromat! He didn’t like to admit his need to his friends.
Don’t take for granted that your friend will ask. Offer to help. If you know the children well enough, take them out for an icecream and talk about the situation. Be positive and encouraging, but don’t lie. Be as supportive as you can. Find out what the kids at school are saying, and help them decided what they are going to say in reply. An excellent book for the smaller children, which you can read with them and chat to them about the subject, is Cancer Starts With C by cancer survivor Leticia Croft-Holguin.