Whether you are the most outgoing and social in the crowd or the quietest and calmest in the group, getting a diagnosis of EC can shake up your connections to friends and family. It is up to you who you decide to talk to about your diagnosis. But we at ECANA firmly believe that everyone needs a support team. Your team may be just one ride-or-die friend or the whole Bible study group, but having someone you can turn to when it counts really matters.
Why? Well, we know from research on people with cancer, that those who have a solid social support system do better with their treatments, are more likely to finish their treatments, and in some cases, even live longer, than people who don't1.
1Pinquart, Martin, and Paul R. Duberstein. "Associations of social networks with cancer mortality: a meta-analysis." Critical reviews in oncology/hematology 75.2 (2010): 122-137.
It may feel very normal for you to shoulder this burden alone, but here are just a few ways that a trusted supporter can help you after an EC diagnosis:
Be a second set of ‘ears’ at doctors appointments
It can be tough to be the patient, and remember all of your questions and all of your doctor’s answers! Research demonstrates that people who bring a friend or family member to a visit have longer visits and get more information from their doctors than those that go alone.
Be the ‘details’ person for all of the little things
Not a details person? Let your support team help out. Even things as simple as knowing where to go, where to park, what to bring to appointments can be a load off your shoulders. If your healthcare team uses email, you can have your support person be sent all of the messages as well, so there are two sets of eyes not missing any details.
Help with transportation
One person doesn’t have to be able to support you in all ways, and most of the time, they can’t. For example, you may just have a friend or family member who can reliably drive you to appointments and pick you up. Or take public transportation with you, so you don’t have to do so alone. They don’t have to be a part of your doctor’s visits, but can do you the favor of getting you where you need to be, with no drama.
Phone calls, paper work, documentation
It can be surprising how much work it is just to receive the healthcare you are due. Whether you have insurance or not, many of us end up needing to make calls to clarify our benefits, fill out forms to get approval for time off from work, or apply for financial assistance. A trusted friend or family member who can make some calls for you, help you fill out forms, get things sent off at the post-office – all of these can be a tremendous help and decrease the stress of dealing with the healthcare system.
These are just some suggestions to help you think about how a friend or family member could help you out. Emotional and physical support are important too, and that will look different to each person. We encourage you to ask for what you need, to reach out to the people who support you, and feel free to take a step back from those that do not. Endometrial cancer is not forever, but for the time it is in your life, a positive and supportive team around you can make all the difference.
Read on for information for caregivers, supporters, friends, and families…
Be a partner… (for caregivers, friends, family, supporters)
You are likely here because you have a trusted friend or loved one diagnosed with EC. We at ECANA thank you for caring! Every person’s experience is different, but we come across very few women with EC who tell us they did it all alone. Please check out the “Have a partner” section to see some concrete ways, beyond physical and emotional support, that you can be helpful to someone going through endometrial cancer.
It’s also very common to not know how to help, or to try to help and end up causing stress or hurt to your loved that you never intended. So, we thought it may be helpful to mention some feedback from women with EC about how their supportive friends and family helped them the most:
Meet her where she’s at
There’s no doubt your loved one can use some help and support right now. But everyone adjusts to this diagnosis differently and it’s important to give her time to process. Offering your help in the ways above, and any other ways you think of is great – and remember she may take time to fully receive it.
Praise her efforts
Accepting a cancer diagnosis, then turning around being able to go through the surgeries and other treatment it requires takes a lot. On top of that, there are many self-care activities we advocate for women to try to keep stress at a minimum and wellness. All of this can be overwhelming and no one can do it all. Praise her where she’s decided to focus her efforts and try not to pressure her to do more before she’s ready.
Control is important
A great deal of the experience of endometrial cancer can be a surprising loss of control your loved one feels. Even as she needs and accepts your help in many ways, be sure to allow her to stay in control of things that are still important to her.
Walking the line of helping your loved one in the best way they need is not always easy, but know that it is deeply appreciated. So thank you again.