Cancer Supporter New Year’s Resolution

Cancer Supporter New Year’s Resolution

Chiara Riga | January 13, 2022

I’ll be honest – I was never much of a New Year’s resolution kind of person before cancer. I always felt like I was just setting myself up for failure and that whatever was meant to happen would work itself out. After cancer, though, I’ve felt much more of a desire to be more intentional with my time, and part of that includes setting New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a great opportunity to sit down and think about what you want your next 12 months to look like in all facets of your life. If you’re a supporter of someone with cancer, this is a great opportunity to sit down and think about what you want your support to look like.

If you don’t know where to start with making resolutions, here are some to get you started:

Be intentional with my support

We’re all insanely busy right now. We’re living through political unrest, the worst pandemic in recorded history, a climate crisis, and more, and we’re expected to continue moving on with life as normal. This can put us into survival mode, and things might slip through the cracks, including remembering to support our friends through cancer. Setting a resolution to be intentional with support is a great way to make sure that your support doesn’t fall by the wayside.

One great and easy way to ensure you’re being intentional with your support is to set recurring reminders to check in on your friend and see how their treatment is going so that you never forget to ask. Their answer might be the same every time you reach out to them, but I promise they’ll still appreciate you reaching out and showing an interest in what they’re going through. Another great way to be intentional is to set a weekly time to get a coffee, FaceTime, go for a walk, etc., with your friend. They might have some weeks where it’s not possible for them to get out of bed, but having that time on the calendar regardless is a great way for you to make sure you’re making time for your friend through all of your own craziness in your life. And if your friend is too ill to see you on a given week, you could use that time to help them around the house, run an errand for them, take care of their kids or pets for them, and more! 

Balance my own needs with the needs of my friend

When someone has cancer, it’s easy to lose sight of your own needs because you’re trying to show up for your friend. But you can’t be a good supporter if you’re running on empty. One important resolution for the new year is to make sure that you’re balancing your own needs. Whether that looks like ensuring that you schedule in your own self-care and relaxation time, starting therapy, or even just getting outside for fresh air a few times a day, think about what you need in order to feel like you can support your friend without sacrificing your own well-being, and make sure you prioritize time to do that in your schedule.

Be present with my support

It’s easy to make plans with a friend, but it’s harder to be 100% present during those plans. Make a pact with yourself to be as present as possible with your support – put your phone on do not disturb, turn the TV off, and remove the distractions. Also, take your friends’ lead when it comes to social media. Some cancer patients love posting about visits from friends and love it when their friends do the same. Others, though, feel that they’re being used for clout when someone posts about a visit to them. Part of being present is understanding their desires and doing your absolute best to respect those.

Show forgiveness (for yourself and your friend)

Cancer fundamentally changes people and relationships, and there’s often no way around it. Your friend may inadvertently say or do something that offends you, or you may do the same to them. This doesn’t make either of you a bad person, and it doesn’t mean you’ve grown apart. It’s just a sign that you need to learn how to communicate with each other again.

Throughout this process of re-learning how to communicate with each other, empathy and forgiveness will become super important. You’ll need to show empathy for them and what they’re going through, and through that you’ll need to forgive them for saying or doing things that you don’t love as they adjust to this crazy new life they’ve been thrust into. At the same time, you’ll need to be able to forgive yourself. This is your first time dealing with something like this, and there is no handbook for this kind of thing. You will almost certainly get things wrong at some point.

It can sometimes be tempting to wallow in your mistakes – thoughts like “my friend is already suffering, why did I have to make that worse?” can often dominate your mind. But once you’ve owned your mistake and apologized to your friend (for more details on what to do when you get it wrong, check our recent podcast episode), the most important thing is that you forgive yourself. We all get it wrong sometimes, and dwelling on it is not helpful to anyone. 

These are just a few of the many resolutions that a supporter could set for themselves in order to be a better supporter. Hopefully, they give you a good start to set your own supporter resolutions! Have a resolution that you’d like to see added to the list? Let us know!

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