This post was written by Joseph McCollom, DO, PPG – Oncology, Parkview Cancer Institute, palliative oncology team.
Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people in many ways. Cancer patients, who have a compromised immune system, may have increased psychosocial distress and higher rates of depression and anxiety due to isolation and loneliness. While we know the separation is to keep them healthy, it can be difficult to know how to support those who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. We’ve compiled a list of ways loved ones can support cancer patients during the pandemic while still maintaining the appropriate safety measures.
- Heartfelt food: A heart-shaped pizza or cookie would be delicious, and the shape is fun while adding to the sentiment that you care.
- Stop and smell the roses: Flowers are always a beautiful way to say you care. Depending on the season, you may even be able to pick the ones that are blooming in your yard.
- Pen pals: Try reviving the lost art of the pen pal and write an old-fashioned letter. Somehow it feels more personal than an email or text. If you aren’t sure what to say, then send fun or encouraging cards.
- Restaurant rescue: Cooking isn’t always appealing. Give that special someone a gift card or two to their favorite restaurants, but make sure they offer delivery.
- Sweet treat: Take a moment to deliver their favorite homemade goodies and leave them on the front porch or doorstep.
- Lend a helping hand: Offer to help with chores like mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, walking the dog or picking up groceries.
- Technology tutorial: If they don’t already know, show them how to use their smartphone. This will help them stay connected and hopefully ease their social isolation.
- Virtual visits: Try sharing a meal virtually over a video conferencing app. You can also schedule time each week to chat or catch up.
- Show up: You could attend appointments with your loved one virtually. Parkview Cancer Institute welcomes patient caregivers during appointments through phone calls or video.
- Be a good listener: Chances are your loved one is feeling stressed and a little lonely. Take a moment to listen to them and ask how they’re doing.
- Game night: Help them download apps so you can play digital versions of your favorite family games. Kids can get involved in this too!
- Window well wishes: Try visiting from a distance. You can stand outside their window or decorate it with washable window paint.
- Make them a priority: Look at your schedule and make time for them. It’s the next best thing to a hug at the moment.