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How to help your family friends going through a life with cancer…
It is difficult to begin to accept a reality where your child is sick. As a parent you are innate to making them feel better at all cost. While your support of your child is important, it is also essential to take care of yourself and the rest of your family.
A diagnosis can cause profoundly overwhelming times within a family,if you are a family friend of people who are going through pediatric cancer. Do you know someone going through a life with cancer? Here are some easy steps to take to help support your family friend provided directly by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute:
1. Don’t just ask; do. It’s nice to say, “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.” But we love even more when people don’t leave the ball in our court, but make a concrete offer: “I’d like to bring a meal, if that would help. When would be the best time to deliver it?” or “I’m free this Saturday night. Want me to come babysit so you can have a night out?”
2.Give a gift card. It may seem impersonal, but it’s not. Having a child with cancer can be a major financial strain on families, between related expenses (parking, co-pays, take-out food, etc.) or a parent having to work less or not at all. Gift cards for household expenses like groceries, pharmacy and purchases at places like Target or The Home Depot can be a huge help. (Personally, I always appreciated Starbucks cards, too!)
3.Don’t forget siblings. Cancer is just as disruptive to the lives of “well” children as it is to their brothers or sisters with cancer. Siblings grapple with jealousy, fear, anger and a host of other emotions. If you want to send a gift for the child with cancer, give something equally special to his or her siblings. Not only will the siblings appreciate it; the parents will, too—trust me.
4.Help later. While it’s natural to want to help immediately after a child is diagnosed, don’t forget that cancer can be a long haul. There may be months or even years of treatment and hospital stays ahead. And while cancer quickly becomes the “new normal” for families, the emotional and financial strains remain.
I was thrilled when, just recently—a whole six months after our daughter’s diagnosis—a friend sent us a gift certificate to a gourmet Italian food store that makes amazing frozen entrees. There’s nothing like pulling a delicious, ready-made meal from the freezer after a long, draining day at the clinic.
5. Say something. We are moved and appreciative when friends send gifts, make meals, etc. But we also love getting cards (especially darkly funny ones—but that’s just us), emails, or even simply hearing “I’ve been thinking about you,” when we see friends and acquaintances. It’s a source of great comfort and strength to us to know that people are sending “good vibes” to our family.