Stories of progress, inspiration, and information in overcoming osteosarcoma.

Someone You Love Has Cancer. How Can You Help?

Cancer patients and their families share the most meaningful ways that their communities have shown support, from offering space to process emotions to providing hands-on help.

“Cancer is such an isolating experience,” says Samantha Stacy, who received an osteosarcoma diagnosis when she was in college.

“I felt so lost,” adds Talgat Omurov, recalling how he felt when he learned that a tumor on his knee was bone cancer.

If you know someone affected by cancer, you may be wondering how you can best support them. The Osteosarcoma Institute (OSI) identifies and funds breakthrough research in osteosarcoma, the leading form of pediatric bone cancer. Here are some forms of support that patients and families in the OSI community found most helpful.

1. Give Them Space to Process Their Emotions

Kathy Crockett, whose daughter Carly battled osteosarcoma at age 28, knows firsthand the importance of simply listening. “Let your child feel every emotion they need to feel on any given day, and just be there to listen and lean on,” she says.

Some patients, like 14-year-old Cheyenne, may feel proud to share their cancer experiences to inspire and motivate others. At the same time, understand that people want to share their thoughts and feelings at their own pace. Even when they do not feel like talking, your presence alone is meaningful.

Talgat says that the support of his family and friends has been the one constant thing in his life. “My family and friends have stuck by me throughout all of this,” he says. “I do not think I could have gotten through this without them.”

2. Offer Specific, Practical Help

As a patient or caregiver is facing new pressures on their time, from going to doctor’s appointments to researching treatment options, some of their day-to-day tasks can fall by the wayside. You can help lighten the load by offering to run an errand, wash their laundry, or cook them a meal. Making a specific offer helps to demonstrate that you are sincerely willing to help and can make it easier for your friend to accept.

For Lei Zhang, her son Jaden’s baseball team was a godsend when Jaden was getting cancer treatment for his osteosarcoma. They helped shuttle Lei’s older son to after-school activities, sent food, and gave Jaden books and toys to entertain him while getting chemotherapy. “It was really touching,” says Lei. “I am so grateful that when we needed comforting, our community supported us.”

Kathy, mom to osteosarcoma survivor Carly, adds, “It is therapeutic for a person fighting cancer to witness how many people want to shower them with warmth and love when times are tough.”

3. Celebrate the Joys, Big and Small

Cancer steals away any sense of normalcy. Teenage patient Tessa says that the most challenging part of her osteosarcoma journey has been spending time away from soccer, friends, and school. But between treatments, her soccer team has welcomed her back to the field and celebrated her milestones, helping her to stay positive.

Lei’s son Jaden recently finished two chemotherapy treatment plans for his osteosarcoma. “Unfortunately, Jaden is not ready to be back to baseball yet,” Lei says. “It is great to have life back to somewhat normal though. He is back in school as a fourth grader and has resumed his piano lessons.” Jaden is also enjoying getting back into swimming and spending time with his older brother, Sebastian. You can encourage your loved one by noticing and cheering on these small wins.

4. Connect Them to Resources

While the support of friends and family is irreplaceable, patients and caregivers can also benefit from the OSI’s free osteosarcoma advice and resources. The OSI established a partnership with Carebox to help connect patients with a free and confidential clinical trial matching program.

In addition, the OSI provides answers and assistance for any part of the osteosarcoma journey through our free patient service, OSI Connect. The service connects patients and families with an osteosarcoma expert who can answer their questions.

You can make a difference in the life of someone you love with cancer. Reach out to them today.

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