Saying, “If you need my help, I’m here,” is a nice start, but many people don’t know what to ask for, or they feel bad asking for it. Instead, be specific about how you can help so your friend knows what you’re willing to handle. Here are some ways you can help people with cancer (and cancer and kids):
- Carpool the kids to school, sports, activities, or play dates. You can also be in charge of setting up a schedule each week, enlisting the help of a pool of people who wish to help with carpooling. My friend Kim handled this for me when I was in treatments, and it made it easier to know who would bring my kids to swim team practice and back or where their next play date would be.
- Cook meals. If one person could offer to be in charge of planning meals and finding cooks, your friend won’t wind up with a freezer full of lasagnas. My friend Susan coordinated neighborhood cooks and made me a calendar that made our lives much easier because we knew who was bringing what kind of meals and when.
- Set up a Lotsa Helping Hands or Go Fund Me site. One point person who is good with schedules or money could take over sharing updates, setting up helpers, and raising funds for treatments.
- Do the cancer research. Your friend and his or her family really should stay off the Internet, because it’s a scary place when you have cancer. Offer to do the research about their cancer and the best treatments, doctors, and hospitals for them. That way, you can weed out the survival statistics and wackadoodle cures you’ll find on the web.
- Clean the house. Either pool money for a housekeeper or take turns sending a crew of friends over to clean the house, do laundry, change the cat’s litter box, etc.
- Take them to treatments. This is typically best suited for someone familiar with hospitals, such as a nurse or doctor friend or a cancer survivor who serves as your Medical Enforcer, making sure you get the treatment the friend needs. It’s important that you’re not the type who feels uncomfortable around sick people.
- Do the paperwork. If you’re good at paperwork and don’t mind dealing with insurance companies, you may be able to help out. But check with the insurance company to make sure that non-family members are able to deal directly with it.
- Offer comic relief. If you’re the type who can find the funny in the horrible, your job is to bring some joy to your friend’s craptastic situation. I was surrounded by funny people, including the many who participated in my Wacky Wig Contest. (Winner: The Heatmiser.)
- Run Errands. In addition to running cancer-related errands, like picking up prescriptions, you could do the things that have been put off because your friend doesn’t have the time or energy. For instance, offer to get an appliance fixed or replaced, or to take the car in for service.
- Do lawn work. If you’re good with a leaf blower or a lawn mower, offer your services on a schedule, so they don’t have to ask you every time it needs to be done.
Share, share, that’s fair: Add your ideas for how to help a friend with cancer below.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ferli Achirulli