IT TAKES A VILLAGE….
While my focus on this blog is cancer, this post definitely applies to any illness or surgery a person may be going through.
While there may be many who would like to keep their diagnosis very private (for various reasons) and prefer to go through it alone or just with their immediate family I really do think it takes a village to support someone going through a life changing diagnosis like cancer.Mainly because the treatment can span over 6 months to even a year.Even for those who continue to work and lead an almost ‘normal’ life there are days when the treatment can take its toll. I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful family and some very good friends who helped me through my journey and who continue to help me during the ‘aftermath’ of my diagnosis and treatment.
Some of you may be thinking of helping someone going through their journey but don’t know how or where to start.Whether you have a few minutes, a few hours or a day, everyone can help in some way.Obviously, it totally depends on how close you are with the person, their diagnosis, their beliefs, their openness or if they even want your help etc.
I read somewhere that if you really want to help, it’s best not to say ‘let me know if you need any help' because you are putting the burden on the person.How many people you said that to, actually called you for help? It is not easy to ask for help like that. Instead, if you gave them your schedule and offered to come and help with something or drop off food, it is so much easier for them to say yes!
Here are some things that my family and friends helped me with, for which I am forever grateful.I hope it will inspire you to reach out to someone in need.
IF YOU HAVE A FEW MINUTES
This is the first and most important thing my family and friends did when they heard about my diagnosis.I do believe strongly in the power of prayer!It is the only thing on this list that you can do remotely or even when you don’t know the person.
It can be lonely and depressing at times when you are going through the treatment.It is always nice to text or call to see how they are doing. There may be days when they are not up to chatting with you so its best to text and ask if its a good time or if they need to talk.
pay a visit
This is something a person may need during the initial part of their journey. I remember when I had just returned from the Doctor’s office after I heard my diagnosis.I had not told my family then. I texted my friend and she was out doing her errands.She dropped everything and came to see me and give me a hug.Needless to say once I told my family, they too drove 1.5 hrs to be by my side!That meant so much to me at the time!
I know many going through chemo may be picky about food or not have an appetite at all.In my case I appreciated any food given to me, not just for me but my family.I know this may sound weird to some people but remember, the family has to eat too, especially if there are kids.I remember a friend used to just text a few minutes ahead and leave a bag of food at my door step.Hey, I never complained about that!
go for a walk
Short walks in the open is always beneficial if the person is upto it. I had a friend who would come home and we would go out for a walk near the house.I always enjoyed her company and it uplifted my mood.
IF YOU HAVE A FEW HOURS
take them to treatment
Besides my husband and son, my extended family(who live out of town) made a schedule and were able to take me to chemo and made things easy.If you don’t have a family it can be tough especially if they live out of town.It is always nice as a friend, to offer to give a ride to and from the place.
offer to take kids to school/practice
Life has to go on, especially for kids! Offering to take kids to school, sports practice or music class will be a great help and one less thing they have to worry about.
There are so many things you could offer to do like grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning or going to the post office, especially if you are already going there or if it’s on your way.
go out for lunch/coffee
On the days I felt like going out, I always enjoyed a nice lunch out with my girl friends.Offer to pick them up and if you can, pick up the tab too:)
help with house chores
It could be anything from doing laundry,cleaning , lawn mowing, snow shoveling or even dog walking.Again it depends on how comfortable they are with you helping with housework.Better yet (if you can afford it) why not send your cleaning person for a day?Who says no to that!
a friend in need
I am just going to leave this to your imagination and be creative as to how you can be a friend in need.Maybe you even have a skill or background that can be useful to that person. During my early chemo days when I had no clue how to remove my infusion pump, my nurse friend came home to help me with it.So, you may have a skill or training that might be helpful .
I hope this gave you some ideas to give you a start, if you like to help some one going through their journey.Remember, no help is too small! A few minutes of your time can go a long way for someone in need.