Facing Cancer While Living Alone

People with cancer who live alone face a lot of unique challenges, whether it’s keeping your spirits up, getting chores done, or meeting with your medical team. Most of the time, friends want to offer assistance in some way, and there are people and services in the community who can help. Here are some tips that can help remedy any sense of isolation, which commonly occurs for people with cancer who live in a household of one:

Network: reach out to friends, acquaintances, members of your community of faith, and co-workers. People often are willing to lend a hand if they know you need it. Give them options, depending on your level of comfort, for how they can get involved.

Reach out to community organizations: Local non-profit and religious organizations may offer assistance. In particular, the American Cancer Society, United Way and Area Agencies on Aging may be able to connect you with volunteers to help with transportation, shopping, housekeeping, meals and companionship in difficult times.

Use the Web: Several online tools are available to help you share your story with friends and family—and inspire them to contribute everything from kind words to a Sunday casserole to a case of nutritional drinks. These include CarePages.com, which offers free space to post updates on your condition; here’s how it works. Another useful tool, LotsaHelpingHands.com, offers ways to solicit and organize help. Also consider setting up a wish list via Amazon.com to let people know what supplies you need, even if they aren’t offered for sale by Amazon.

Bring a tape recorder: If you don’t feel comfortable inviting a friend to your medical appointments, bring a tape recorder to help you remember what your doctor says. You can listen to these conversations again later if questions pop up. You can also ask your doctor to mail you a copy of the clinical notes after each visit.

Get support: No matter how independent you are, it’s important to have an emotional outlet during these difficult times. Make regular phone calls to catch up with friends socially. And consider talking with a therapist, counselor, member of the clergy or spiritual care provider.

You can find more tips about coping here.