The 3 things everyone must do when faced with cancer

  • Michelle Fong
Oct 06, 2017
Selena Kemper, supervisor of the Mammography Department Community Mercy Health Partners, talks about the 3D mammography machine in the new Mobile Mammography Unit earlier this year. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Listen. Advocate. Support.

These are the three most important things everyone faced with cancer — whether you are a patient, a spouse, a loved one or a friend — should keep in mind, said Tracy Adrian, Radiation Oncology Nurse and Breast Health Navigator for Springfield Regional Cancer Center.

The first thing to do when faced with a diagnosis is listen.

“You definitely want extra ears when you go to appointments,” Adrian advised. “You need family and friends, and you can bring as many for support as you want to really hear the messages. The patients are so nervous. You can talk to them and they just won’t remember everything because they are shocked and it’s overwhelming.”

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The Springfield Regional Cancer Center on North Street. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF Photo:

The next step is to learn as much as you can about the diagnosis. Not every diagnosis and treatment plan are the same, and there are a lot of misconceptions, she said.

You also need to figure out what kind of support the person with cancer wants or needs.

“Some people can be so private about it,” Adrian said. “If you have a good family dynamic, be open and honest and keep them informed so they can help you.”

Beyond just being there and listening, find family members and friends who can help provide meals for the family and help clean their house and drive them to their treatments, Adrian recommended.

>> Ways you can join the fight against cancer

Find a support group or support network and get as involved as you can. A few examples:

Springfield Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk participants walk past the Springfield Regional Cancer Center. JIM WITMER / STAFF Photo:

And of course, there’s the annual Making Strides walk.

“Maybe treat your family members to a massage. Help patients take advantage of those extras,” Adrian said. “Celebrate them being a survivor. It’s a big celebration.”

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