When someone has cancer, it often takes a group effort to get through treatment.
Often, when newly diagnosed with cancer, it’s hard to ask for help. Some feel embarrassed. You’re used to being the pillar of strength in your family. Sometimes friends and family members hang back when they hear one of their own has been diagnosed. They want to help, but are not sure what to say or how to offer their assistance.
Reeling from the shock of a diagnosis is bad enough. When you have cancer, the to-do lists seem endless. There are the rides to doctor’s appointments and treatments. You’re supposed to eat, but the last thing you feel like doing is cooking. Then there are the day-to-day chores of cleaning, shopping, doing the laundry. And one of the most important yet hardest to get to items… Returning phone calls to all the people who want to know how you are. During cancer treatment, despite all the new people in your life, sometimes you feel lonely. You might find you just need someone to talk to. And the kids? Oh them! Yes. They might need rides to school and activities if you’re not feeling up to it during treatment.
How do you ask for help? Start with lists.
Hopefully, your family or close friends and spouse will jump right in and help you get organized. Spouses and partners often carry the mother-load of these responsibilities. Watch out. It’s very easy for the person closest to you to get burned out—you need outside help, too. Begin by creating a few lists.
You may want to ask for help getting organized, but if not, lists will help.
- Create a list of friends and family who want to know how you are throughout your treatment with their contact information.
- Create a list of friends and family who have offered to help you, also with their contact information
- Create a list of things that need to be done. Keep it next to the phone so when people call offering to help you’ll have an answer for them. This can be anything from cooking and freezing dinners to helping with laundry, house cleaning, and picking up kids from school and events.
- Create a list of contact numbers for your kids’ schools, activities, friends, and your doctors, too.
Tape these lists by the phone and give copies to anyone who asks for it. You may even ask one friend to manage the list, and put another in charge of returning phone calls. You’ll find that people you haven’t seen in a while will come forth with renewed interest in your life and helping you get well. Embrace their support. Someday you might want to return the favor.
Part II comes on Thursday, so check back on the blog then for the complete story. And let us know if any of this may be useful to you. We like hearing from you.