My uncle was battling throat cancer last year and I had no idea how to help, especially being 3,000 miles away. So I searched WordPress blogs for tips and ideas. Many cancer survivors write about their experiences and helped give insight to what the patient needs during this time.
Ways to help Loved Ones and Friends:
- Run Errands or Help around the house – Do a load of laundry. Cook a nutritious meal, then wash the pots and pans. Run a vacuum cleaner and dust. Take out the garbage. Mow the lawn, rake up fallen leaves, or clean up the backyard.
- Go to Doctor’s Appointments – Just volunteering to drive someone to the doctor’s office is helpful, but it’s always good to have a second set of eyes and ears at doctor visits. You can provide invaluable caregiving assistance by accompanying your loved one to these appointments. Before the visit, write down all of his questions and concerns to discuss with the doctor, and while you are there make sure all of them are addressed. Take detailed notes so you have an accurate record of what was said, including any specific directions or recommendations.
- Bookkeeping – You can help by organizing these bills and figuring out what is due when. You also can review the patient’s health insurance and make sure that she is getting all of the coverage she is entitled to. If she is behind on payments, you might call hospital administrators on her behalf to work out a payment plan. You also can help your loved one apply for financial assistance.
- Keeping up Morale – Cancer patients can feel isolated and lonely. They also can become run-down by a constant trickle of visitors coming to their door. You can help by coordinating visits of groups of friends or family, so the patient can remain connected without becoming overwhelmed. You also can arrange for people to write cards and letters of support or send flowers.
Lend and Ear – Some of the best caregiving you can provide involves just sitting and listening to your loved one. That’s not as simple as it sounds. Let him open up about his emotions, fears, and concerns, but try not to automatically interject reassuring words or dole out advice. If you do that, you might interrupt his thought process or cause him to shut down. The best encouragement comes from reminding him of his special qualities or of other challenges he has bested. Rather than offer advice, discuss choices and allow the cancer patient to talk them through to reach the best decision.
- Get Educated – Research the type of cancer she has, learning as much as you can so you can help answer questions and provide information when it’s time to make crucial decisions. You also can learn about the medications that have been prescribed and help keep track of the dosing schedule.
- Find Morale Support – locate local support groups and survivor groups
- Gift ideas from The Pampered Patient – I sent lotion, queasy drops, and some books to my uncle last year
- Head coverings or wigs for people losing their hair, or blankets for patients undergoing Chemo
- Donate to the associated cancer research foundation – review the charity reports on BBB or Charity Navigator before donating
Covers for Chemo is a non-profit that works to give snuggies to people during chemotherapy treatments. The hospital rooms are often cold and people need a little something to keep warm while sitting there for an hour or more.
Headcovers Unlimited sells a variety of head coverings.
Other Articles and Posts:
- Huffington Post Article on helping friends with cancer.
- National Cancer Institute information
- Support Networks on MyLifeLine.org
What suggestions do you have to add?