I have been making an extra effort at this time to check in with family and friends that I know are living alone and may be feeling extra lonely without being able to go out and do things as has been normal for them. Our phone conversations have been extra long and not necessarily about anything of importance on any level other than to know that someone cared enough to reach out to them. To know that it mattered to someone else enough for that person to pick up the phone to check on them just made their day. But, this started my thinking about those who are alone and recently diagnosed with cancer or going through treatment at this time without a support system on whom they can rely.
“There are so many ways that we can all find to support those family members and friends and community members who need some sort of connection with the outside world at this time.”Barbara Jacoby
For every person who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, one of the most important factors for anyone to successfully navigate their future comes in the form of their support network. And while the medical professionals on that team are there for that aspect of a patient’s care, family, friends and support groups cover all the rest on every level. And at a time of social distancing, the cancer patient whose immunity may already be compromised because of their treatment may very likely find themselves isolated to an even greater degree even if they are not living alone. No one wants to risk getting a patient compromised even further with exposure to the Coronavirus at this time because others may be asymptomatic so everyone is staying away.
Whereby a friend may have stopped by with a hug and a pot of soup or a meal in the past, such gestures might not be acceptable at this time because no one can be sure that the food was prepared with the same safety standards that would be needed under these circumstances or by someone that we can confirm does not have the virus. Patients who would normally turn to their churches or a local support group most likely do not have these options available to them. For many who are in the midst of treatments like chemo and/or radiation may find it extremely difficult to continue in those situations where the treatment has to be administered by a medical professional. And for those who may have been in the middle of preparation for reconstruction now find themselves in a position where their surgeries are considered non-essential and are having them postponed indefinitely.
As a result, those who are involved with any and all of the social media cancer support and assistance groups on any and every level are more important than ever. Just as telemedicine has become the new normal for many patients, so has the need to find help and information and support on every level from organizations with an Internet presence. And it really becomes incumbent upon patient advocates and advocacy groups to step up and help in any way possible as we come to understand the uniquely difficult time this is for cancer patients.
For those who are not in a position to help from their Internet communities, we have always been able to find ways to help others in times of need with their own innovative ideas. For instance, you might know someone who is alone, whether currently going through treatment or not, who would love your gathering a collection of books from your shelves that you think they might enjoy and placing them in a bag at the door of that person who would love to enjoy them as you had. And these books then become a topic of conversation in which you can engage with one another. The same thing applies to things like jigsaw puzzles or decks of cards, etc. to help a person to pass the time.
You might also want to consider sharing music with others online or helping them to set up deliveries of groceries or meals from local restaurants if they are not savvy in those areas. Showing them how to find games to play on their devices or setting up Facetime chats will also provide the opportunity to find ways other than TV for amusement and to feel like you are connected without the physical contact. There are so many ways that we can all find to support those family members and friends and community members who need some sort of connection with the outside world at this time. And most often, it is just sharing a thought or idea or a bit of ingenuity with another person to make this most difficult time just a little bit better on many levels.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.