Thyroid Cancer Friend

No one wants to hear the words “I’ve got cancer” coming from a loved one. It’s very difficult to think of someone you care about having to face such a difficult and dangerous disease. You may feel helpless and scared and unsure of what to say. You may want to help, but not know how.

Rest assured that there’s a lot you can do to help when a friend has thyroid cancer. One of the most important things you can do is offer steady, long-term support and encouragement as your friend deals with cancer symptoms and treatment.

Get Information about Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer often affects young people, and after a diagnosis, the question of how thyroid disease will affect their future looms large.

The good news is that thyroid cancer has a very high cure rate, with 97 percent of patients living at least five years after their diagnosis. It is one of the top 15 most common cancers, which will hopefully mean it will be easy for your friend to access treatment and support.

As a friend of a thyroid cancer patient, it may help to learn the statistics on thyroid cancer. Not only will it help you cope to understand the real risks — it may also help as you talk your friend through his bouts of anxiety or stress.

Understand Anxiety

Thyroid cancers are most often discovered when the patient notices a bump or nodule on the neck and gets it checked out by a doctor. It can be very disconcerting for an otherwise young, healthy person to discover that something seemingly so inconsequential can actually be thyroid cancer. As a friend or family member, your support can help your friend adapt to a new reality, with all its uncertainty, anxiety and hope.

It’s important not to dismiss fears and feelings of anxiety, but instead offer support and encouragement, and allow your friend to talk about his fears.

Understanding Treatments for Thyroid Cancer

The principal forms of thyroid cancer treatment include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Radiation
  • Radioactive iodine
  • Surgery.

These various forms of treatment can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally.

It’s common for patients with cancer of thyroid glands to be treated with surgery, followed by chemotherapy or radioactive iodine. Whether it’s recuperating from surgery or handling the complications of chemo or radiation, when a friend has thyroid cancer, one of the best ways to help is to offer sympathy and help your friend cope with the multiple side effects of treatment. These can range from providing transportation to outpatient treatment sessions to keeping your friend’s household on an “even keel.”

Never underestimate the importance of the little things, like running errands, handling the grocery shopping or mowing the lawn. Your loved one may feel too physically exhausted or overwhelmed to complete these everyday tasks on her own.

In some ways, it doesn’t matter what you do. What’s most important is that you find ways to show your friend that you’re there — and will continue to be there — for whatever she needs during this difficult time.

Resources

Drucker, D., MD. (2010). Psychological impact of a thyroid cancer diagnosis. Retrieved March 14, 2010, from the MyThyorid.com Web site: http://www.mythyroid.com/psychologicalimpact.html.

Stendebach, M. (2010). Thyroid cancer songbook. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from the Thyroid Cancer Songbook Web site: http://www.thyroidcancersongs.com/songs.htm.

National Cancer Institute Staff. (2010). Common cancer types. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from the National Cancer Institute Web Site: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/commoncancers.

National Cancer Institute Staff. (2010). Thyroid cancer. Retrieved March 1, 2010, from the National Cancer Institute Web Site: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/thyroid.