Your friend has cancer – what can you do?
A new cancer diagnosis is shocking and scary. In an instant people’s lives change. They are your friends and you want to help but what can you do besides make a casserole?
Five things You Can Do To Help a Friend with Cancer
Help organize people who want to help. Everyone wants to help but there are only so many casseroles one family can eat. One of the most useful things is to become the “coordinator” who organizes people who want to help with the things that need to be done (e.g rides to the hospital, grocery shopping, drop the kids at soccer). It takes the burden off the caregiver (I used to spend time making up tasks to get people to stop asking “How can I help?”). There are websites that can help with this – two of the better ones are - www.lotsahelpinghands.com and www.caringbridge.org
If your friends have children, offer to take the kids on an outing. This is a stressful time for everyone and taking the kids to do something fun both helps them and gives the adults some time alone.
Offer to mow the lawn, rake the leaves, clean the gutters, pick up the dry cleaning, go grocery shopping, walk the dogs, etc. – Or if you are the “coordinator,” add these things to the list of tasks people can help do.
Offer to come hang out with the patient so the caregiver can get a break. Being the caregiver for someone who has cancer is exhausting and is essentially a 24/7 job. A break is always appreciated.
Make food. Food is not a bad thing, it’s just not the only thing. A few tips:
- Don’t make large quantities
- Make things that can be frozen and used later
- Make sure you know the family’s food preferences/allergies
- If there are young kids, make kid-friendly options
- If you are the coordinator, help organize food delivery so it doesn’t all come at once.
- Set up a cooler outside the house so people can drop off food without disturbing the household
And one final thought - recognize that this is a long haul. Definitely help now, but also make sure you are around weeks and months from now.
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