Yes, I said a "family with Cancer", because when one member has Cancer, it affects the family unit as a whole. When one member suffers, all the members suffer. We work as a group, as a team, with one goal: TO KICK CANCER'S BUTT!
The DO's and DON'Ts
DO reach out, by phone, text, email, snail mail, anything. Please do not be afraid to contact the family. Yes, they are busy but if they want too, they will pick up the phone, if they can't, they won't. (But don't expect a timely reply. You lose track of time in the hospital, days can turn into weeks. They will call you back when they are able to.)
DO leave an open ended invitation with no obligation, like: "we are going to the park on Tuesday, please join us if you can but we totally understand if you cannot make it." This means the family will not ruin your day if they suddenly have to cancel since you are going anyway!
DO send get well cards, thinking of you cards, anything that lets the family know you are thinking of them without having to get back to you right away. And kids love cards in the mail so it's a win-win!
DO make food! After spending a tiring day at the hospital, coming home to a home cooked meal is AMAZING. If you make something non-fancy, homemade and can be frozen if not eaten, that is always perfect! Think chicken noodle soup, lasagna, etc. (And don't make anything too spicy, or with heavy smells like curry for example, this can be bad for sensitive chemo bellies that can't handle that kind of food.) Not sure if the family is home? DO leave a dozen cookies in the mailbox! If you are not the cooking type, snacks are SUPER expensive in the hospital! Favorites are trail mix, nuts, chips, granola bars, cup-a-soups, etc. Think fast and quick!
DO go by and help. The yard gets very neglected; it's the last thing on the list of things to do. DO go mow the lawn, pull weeds, plant flowers. DO go shovel the driveway, hang Christmas lights or take them down. (But don't ask the family for a day or time or a schedule, just show up.)
DO donate! Give blood, sign up for organ donation, register for stem cell donation (You need a cheek swab!) Donate your time to a local cancer charity, run/walk/bike in a fundraiser in honor of the family. DO send a note/photo/update on what you did! The family will love to hear the stories and will love that you are helping out with the cause!!! (Don't shave your head in honor of the child. This seems extreme and puts pressure on the family. They do not like being bald, sometimes people don't want you to suffer too. Unless the family requests it, I wouldn't do it!) DO cut your pony tail and donate to a children's wig charity like Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids, etc. DO make "Chemo Kits", fun little bags full of goodies, crafts, etc that you can pass around to the hospital! DO raise awareness!
DO be there. Be present. If the family does reach out, if they do want to talk, the best thing you can do is listen. No, you will not have the answers but sometimes we just need to get stuff off our chests. It can be long, put the kettle on! DO ask questions. DO understand. This is probably the hardest one of all. You will not know what that Cancer family is going through but you can certainly understand. Hold their hand through the most terrible, stressful, awful time of their lives. Their baby is sick, their marriage is rocky, and their finances are in the ditch. They haven't slept a full night since it began; any cough sends them to the hospital. They are in a life and death battle for real. They need a supportive friend right now. When they say they are "okay" or "fine"they are lying. They need your help and your love and your support. DO pick up the phone!!!
How have you helped a family with cancer? Share below: