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Helping People through the Battle of Cancer

December 8, 2005

It’s been 10 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. It was Oct of 1995, and recent events here in Eugene have got me thinking back. Between newly diagnosed patients and people loosing the battle, cancer seems to be on the tip of everyones tongue and in everyone’s thoughts.

As soon as someone hears about a friend or colleague being diagnosed the first reaction is usually what can I do to help, even if you don’t know the person well. As I was going through my experience there were several things that helped me through that initial shock.
First, people let me know they were thinking of me. I got numerous cards, and journals filled with classmates signatures. I still have these today, and even though they consist of the maturity of a thirteen year old, they are cool to look back on. At the time they really made me feel like people were routing for me and I had a chance.
Second, many families cooked meals for us. When you are hit with something tough, the last thing on anyones mind are daily chores and especially one that come as often as cooking. We got so many meals that were easy to freeze and warm up later. This helped my parents so much, and they could focus there attention on more important things.
I know that eating preferences, allergies, and such make it complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. There is nothing wrong with asking the person about what they can or cannot eat.

It is so important to remember that huge events like this effect the whole family, not just the person diagnosed. While I loved the flowers and stuffed animals I received, some of the help my family received meant a lot too. Whatever it is, if you feel compelled to do something, do it. No matter how little you know the person, your gesture will be appreciated.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2007 9:34 am

    i hope you don’t mind me commenting on such an old post, but I thought I would add a few suggestions i have for helping families cope with cancer. My son is now being treated for his 2nd recurrence, and we’ve had some wonderful support from people …

    1. Two different groups of people went to one of those places where you prepare meals & take them home to put in your freezer. Our freezer has never been more well-stocked. All of these wonderful meals got us through the 28 days of radiation treatments & the associated 2-hour round trip.

    2. Remember the siblings! We have a DD who is 3.5 yrs younger than DS, and this latest recurrence sent her into a mini tailspin. She was so afraid that she was going to have to give up doing everything she loves to do, and also a bit exasperated w/ feeling forgotten while everyone always ask about how her brother is doing.

    3. Listen. That’s all. Just listen while the Mom or the Dad talks. You don’t have to solve their problems, but a sympathetic ear is so welcome. Take Mom or Dad out for coffee.

    4. Offer to take the kids out for ice cream or something so that Mom & Dad can have a couple of hours to themselves.

    5. Offer to run errands. No … INSIST on running errands! :lol:

    6. Offer explicit help … if you call and say, “How can I help?” You won’t get an answer. Nobody wants to give you a list of things you can do. But if you can think about things that you would need to have done, you can probably call to offer something specific.

    That’s all. :smile: I hope this helps someone.

  2. Jodie permalink
    February 26, 2007 11:12 pm

    Those are great suggestions! Thank you so much for posting them. I especially like the one about not forgeting siblings, because this happens all too often.

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