Supporting friends

Hi everyone,
Firstly sorry if I’m intruding by being here but my intentions are to help as much as possible.
I have a friend who has recently completed treatment and I am just wanting to be able to offer any support that might be needed. I’ve read a lot and dug through the internet trying to find bits and pieces but thought it might be worth asking those of you who really know what could be of benefit. I don’t want to look back and think I could have done more.
Thank you

Hello Hen,

Welcome to the forum and it’s lovely that you want to support your friend at this time. Would it be possible to give a little more information about what treatment your friend has had, to help us to know what we can help you with? Has your friend had cervical cancer, and did she have an operation, or chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or both, or has she been treated with LLETZ or another surgical intervention on the cervix for precancerous cells? These are very different areas but all supported on our forum. Thank you for caring for your friend. X

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Hi Jacks
Thank you for responding and sorry for being unclear. Treatment was a combination of chemo, radiation and brachytherapy for cervical cancer.
Thank you

Hi Hens

You ask a good question and I’m sorry to hear your friend has had to go through all that treatment; I went through it in 2017.

I think one of the best things a friend can do is simply to still be a friend despite the fact the other person may have changed, mentally and physically, as a result of their diagnosis and treatment. Be aware that no two people are the same in how they emerge from chemo-radiotherapy for cervical cancer; it ranges from being virtually unscathed through to suffering various long term side effects to possible recurrences and sadly some don’t make it. Not for nothing is the cancer diagnosis/treatment experience often referred to as a roller-coaster.

I suggest a good thing would to be to really listen to your friend and be guided by what she tells you I told a close relation in some detail about how profound some of my long term side effects were; a bit of time passed and she very presumptively invited me stay with with her for 2 or 3 days (it involves a long journey on public transport) without any reference to my health issues - whilst a part of me appreciated the gesture I felt she really hadn’t listened or taken on board what I’d told her - it woud have been better if she’d started off by asking me if I felt up to staying with her or maybe offering an option like maybe a meet up half way for a few hours for a nice meal. I think there’s a better understanding between us now but I would have appreciated if she’d listened well in the first place.

Another thing is to be clear in your own mind about how much and what you can offer and not to over promise. Someone in my network offered help ‘anything, anytime’; maybe I was being oversensitive but I was pretty hacked off when I once asked if they could be with me for a hospital appointment when I was feeling particularly anxious only for said person to tell me they had a hair appointment that day - they did apologise and we’re still friends but I think it’s a good example of over-promising.



Thank you, Hen. I, and many others on the forum, have received this treatment for cervical cancer. Jazza has really said things beautifully. I’ll try not to cover the same ground! For me there were two main issues after treatment finished - side effects and fear. People are variable in how the treatment affects them in the short term - some feel okay and want to get back to things, and would appreciate being encouraged to look to the future; some are exhausted and suffer from bowel or urinary issues, or nausea, where they will be struggling for some time and would really appreciate encouragement and help to manage where they are at, especially if they live on their own. Also not expecting your friend to be fine within a few months and restored to full health. This can be the story, but not for everyone.

The fear is something that is hard to quantify. I think with cancer you always have it in your mind that it may return. It’s sometimes hard for people to understand why you might be almost irrationally fearful of every twinge and niggle. So patience and positivity but also being prepared to talk and validate how she feels, even if it seems out of proportion. X