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© 2019 by Nicki Odell.

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If you have a friend who’s diagnosed with cancer, be sure you reach out with a phone call. Even though it may be uncomfortable for you, they probably want and need all the support they can get, especially during these uncertain times when they may feel more isolated than ever.


I speak from experience when writing about this subject. Near the end of 2019, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Even though I enjoy reading and blogging weekly about issues affecting people battling cancer, reaching out to my friend still felt uncomfortable. After days of reminding myself all that I’d learned and shared about the support people crave when fighting cancer, I decided to lead by example and get together with her. (Keep in mind this was last year, before the coronavirus hit.)


If you don’t know what to say to your friend, a simple “I’m here” helps. Let them know you’re available to talk when needed. Allow your friend to take the lead and set the course. They know what’s best for them and what they need at a given moment.


I followed this advice when I first got together with my friend after the cancer diagnosis. I waited until she introduced topics, then added my input to the conversation. The words developed naturally, just as they always had. It simply took some getting used to the new dynamics of the relationship. Knowing we may have had a limited amount of time to spend talking and participating in fun activities stayed in the back of my mind. I’ve since learned to focus on the discussion we’re participating in at the moment, nothing beyond that.


Be aware that providing words of encouragement to your friend may not be helpful. Especially after a recent diagnosis, it’s often more important that your friend deal with emotions they’re experiencing in the moment than think about things long term. They may prefer to have you listen and be present rather than optimistically say everything will work out. Or, your friend might desire to talk about what’s going on in your own life, throughout the world, and other topics that don’t involve doctors, treatments, side effects, and related issues. It often helps to focus on other subjects and put aside cancer for a while.


I kept this in mind when my friend and I started getting together after the cancer diagnosis. I focused on listening to what she was saying more than what I said in response. Now that things are heading in a more positive direction with her health, our conversations have evolved to focus on the future as well as what’s happening now. We’ve talked about places to go and activities to take part in down the road.


Unless your friend asks for your input, avoid offering opinions and advice on anything related to cancer. This is especially true if you haven’t fought the disease yourself. Deciding whether and how to proceed with treatment is an individual choice. Your friend probably will take into consideration their medical team’s information and guidance, but final decisions are up to the person.


Since my dear friend was diagnosed with cancer and I’ve been reaching out, our relationship has deepened. We communicate almost daily. We tell each other all the time how much our connectedness has made a difference in each of our lives. I see us remaining close throughout the rest of our time together.


If you or someone you know has cancer, reach out to Chix 4 a Cause. We provide short-term financial and long-term emotional support to people battling cancer. Find out more about our Gifts of Love program at chix4acause.org today.




When a person diagnosed with cancer moves from remission to survivorship, others who haven’t fought the disease often believe there’s no need for further concern. However, the reality is that the person traded a terminal disease for a chronic disease. Having fought cancer leaves a different physical, emotional, or spiritual impact on each individual. When others understand that, it helps a survivor on their journey.

Entering survivorship brings a person a world of challenges. Although loved ones may move on and believe everything is fine again, the survivor often feels isolated. Since there’s a risk of cancer recurring, the survivor may feel apprehensive. Depending on the type of cancer, the survivor may be on medication for the rest of their life.

Even if a survivor looks good on the outside, they may not feel the same way on the inside. Dealing with side effects of cancer might cause them to feel like they’re carrying around heavy baggage as they go about their day. Although the survivor may figuratively put down their baggage before going to bed, they often feel like they’re picking it up again the next day and taking it everywhere they go.

Others often don’t understand the limitations that a cancer diagnosis can impose on a survivor. If the survivor doesn’t have taste buds for an extended time, they aren’t able to enjoy the foods they love. Being told to “eat other foods” or “focus on the positive” typically isn’t helpful. Not being able to enjoy the little things in life, such as delicious food, is a big deal. Others need to respond accordingly.

Perhaps the survivor received intense chemotherapy and still hasn’t regrown their hair. If the survivor chooses to wear scarves, others may ask why they don’t wear a wig. Perhaps the survivor doesn’t like how wigs look on them. Maybe they identify themselves by their scarves, choosing colorful ones that match their outfit. The survivor shouldn’t have to explain the reasoning behind their choices. They simply should be supported.

If you or someone you know is going through cancer treatment, get in touch with Chix 4 a Cause. Find out about the financial and emotional support we provide through our Gifts of Love program. Visit chix4acause.org today.




As a person fighting cancer, you may not be aware of how easy it is to lose your balance after

undergoing chemotherapy. You may have problems remaining stable while standing, sitting, or moving. Or, you might walk with an altered or irregular step, or experience unusual clumsiness. Plus, you could experience chronic fatigue that results in dizziness, lightheadedness, or feeling as though the room is spinning. This can impede your ability to perform daily tasks.

If you undergo chemotherapy treatment, you also may experience chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). This is nerve damage that affects feelings in your hands or feet. If you’re walking and can’t feel a crack in the sidewalk or an object in your path, your odds of experiencing a fall are great. The danger increases if you suffer from dizziness.

These side effects are in addition to chemo fog or chemo brain. If you experience poor memory or attention span, you’re more likely than others to trip and fall or bump into walls.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to increase your balance. Exercise is the most important. An exercise trainer at the YMCA Livestrong program, physical therapist, exercise physiologist, or athletic trainer can share information and demonstrate special exercises to help increase your balance. You receive a customized program with tools such as a fit ball or bands to perform single leg standing, heel raises, and more to benefit your balance and orientation. Other effective therapies include yoga, Pilates, dance, Tai Chi, and similar, potentially free exercises. Or, you can talk with your doctor and receive a medical assessment. There may be medicines to help with dizziness and feeling the room spin.


If you or someone you know is battling cancer, contact Chix 4 a Cause. Learn more about the financial and emotional support we provide through our Gifts of Love program. Visit chix4acause.org today.