Helping someone with Cancer

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TRC
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Helping someone with Cancer

Post by TRC » Tue May 15, 2018 6:03 am

Hi Everyone,

Sadly I just found out that a former and very close co-worker of mine has come down with stage 3 cancer. She's a young mother of 2 (literally had her 2nd baby a couple weeks of ago). She's having surgery this Friday and will undergo chemo afterwards. I'd like to do something for her and her family, I'm just not sure what. My wife suggested one of those cancer care baskets. I also though maybe some prepared meals might be helpful. I'm sure some people on this forum have deal with this before or have been the recipient of some thoughtful gifts during a time like this. Any suggestions?

Thanks,
TRC

ResearchMed
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by ResearchMed » Tue May 15, 2018 6:10 am

TRC wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 6:03 am
Hi Everyone,

Sadly I just found out that a former and very close co-worker of mine has come down with stage 3 cancer. She's a young mother of 2 (literally had her 2nd baby a couple weeks of ago). She's having surgery this Friday and will undergo chemo afterwards. I'd like to do something for her and her family, I'm just not sure what. My wife suggested one of those cancer care baskets. I also though maybe some prepared meals might be helpful. I'm sure some people on this forum have deal with this before or have been the recipient of some thoughtful gifts during a time like this. Any suggestions?

Thanks,
TRC
How well do you know her/them?
That can affect what you'd want to do, and what they'd feel comfortable with.

Offer to help with child care, including while she is at home recovering.
Then perhaps bring some prepared food along with you. (She may not have an appetite during chemo, so *ask* each time what tidbits she might find tasty, or what she finds unappealing, including "smells".)

Also, just *ask* what you can do to help. Let them tell you what they can best use.
Shopping for them? Other errands? Transportation to medical appointments?

RM
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mouses
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by mouses » Tue May 15, 2018 6:18 am

It's amazing how often it seems that people who have cancer diagnoses that years ago would have been hopeless, survive and do well, although it seems very difficult going through the treatments. I would try to find the right attitude when communicating with the family as to whether they want emotional support, don't want to talk etc., and this may vary from day to day.

With young kids and medical treatments, they will need things like driving to appointments, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, child care, the proverbial casseroles customized to any eating restrictions. I would make it very clear you want to help, give them your phone numbers, when are you available, and that it is a genuine offer.

I think ongoing things like the second paragraph are more useful that a one time gift basket.

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Fletch
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by Fletch » Tue May 15, 2018 6:19 am

Be a friend. Listen to her concerns, fears, and aspirations. Visit frequently. Don't pretend that all will be okay when you both know it may not be. Be honest. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. All this in addition to addressing the physical needs of her and her family.
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lthenderson
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by lthenderson » Tue May 15, 2018 9:13 am

TRC wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 6:03 am
Hi Everyone,

Sadly I just found out that a former and very close co-worker of mine has come down with stage 3 cancer. She's a young mother of 2 (literally had her 2nd baby a couple weeks of ago). She's having surgery this Friday and will undergo chemo afterwards. I'd like to do something for her and her family, I'm just not sure what. My wife suggested one of those cancer care baskets. I also though maybe some prepared meals might be helpful. I'm sure some people on this forum have deal with this before or have been the recipient of some thoughtful gifts during a time like this. Any suggestions?

Thanks,
TRC
I'm dealing with my mom who has terminal brain cancer right now. My parents refrigerator is so full of food brought over by other people that they end up throwing a lot of it out. Sometimes they get so many visitors they feel like they are on display at a zoo. What I'm trying to say is that although well intentioned, the best thing is just to first ask or offer help whenever needed. Offer to look after the kids when she is undergoing treatments or needs some time off. Offer to bring food over is she doesn't feel like cooking. Offer to help with other household chores, etc. My mom has called in a lot of those favors over the last two years and it has meant a tremendous amount to know that others are willing to help her in her time of need. But she really does wish people would stop bringing so much food and stopping for random visits so often.

mak1277
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by mak1277 » Tue May 15, 2018 9:19 am

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer I read a very helpful book called Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer want you to know. I'm sure it's still available.

I think what my mom appreciated most was having someone come clean her house for her. She was too tired to do it herself but felt guilty about letting it go. There is a charity (I forget the name) who does free cleanings for cancer patients.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by BolderBoy » Tue May 15, 2018 9:54 am

mak1277 wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 9:19 am
I think what my mom appreciated most was having someone come clean her house for her.
This. Enormously helpful.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

InMyDreams
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by InMyDreams » Tue May 15, 2018 10:10 am

This thread on a similar topic (but closer relationship) has many ideas for lending a helping hand:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=244493

Getting to appointments (there will be many), keeping the kids' lives at a normal keel, getting the day-to-day chores done - those are all great things to help with. There can be a feeling that you are no longer in control of your life when there are strangers (even when they're friends) are in and out of your home and life. She and her family need to choose - finding the right level is a skill!

robebibb
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by robebibb » Tue May 15, 2018 10:13 am

mak1277 wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 9:19 am


I think what my mom appreciated most was having someone come clean her house for her. She was too tired to do it herself but felt guilty about letting it go. There is a charity (I forget the name) who does free cleanings for cancer patients.
Third for help cleaning. When my son was in the hospital with medical issues we had friends pitch in for a house cleaning and it was great. Try to coordinate meals so they aren't overloaded with food all at once.

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djpeteski
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by djpeteski » Tue May 15, 2018 12:41 pm

Hmmm, good ideas. My wife has a coworker friend that is a young mom, that is now riding the experimental treatment train.

We give them cash, or visa style gift cards. Their health insurance benefits went down significantly this year, they have to travel to get the experimental treatments, and she is not working currently. We would like to stop by and drop them off, but many times that is impossible as she is not feeling well, so we just drop it in the mail.

So we attended a fundraiser for her, a couple of years back, that also had a silent auction. I could not bring myself to overpay for the items being auctioned, yet I had no issue with handing her a few hundred bucks. Very weird of me.

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lthenderson
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by lthenderson » Tue May 15, 2018 12:51 pm

djpeteski wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 12:41 pm
So we attended a fundraiser for her, a couple of years back, that also had a silent auction. I could not bring myself to overpay for the items being auctioned, yet I had no issue with handing her a few hundred bucks. Very weird of me.
I'm exactly like that too.

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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by Fallible » Tue May 15, 2018 12:53 pm

I've always gone by what the patient's family or close friends advise as they'll know best what is needed and most helpful. Sometimes, if able, the patient may be able to let others know this directly.
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Artsdoctor
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by Artsdoctor » Tue May 15, 2018 12:57 pm

There are many, many things you can do. What they all have in common is action. Figure out where you can be helpful (going to chemo with her, arranging meals, shuttling the kids, etc.) and give her a plan. Although it's all very well-meaning to say, "I'm here for you and just let me know when you need me," it's always going to be far more effective to say something like, "I know it's going to be very hard to shuttle the kids to XYZ practice so I'd really like to that while you're going through this." When you're sick or grieving, it's really very hard to delegate.

rjbraun
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by rjbraun » Tue May 15, 2018 1:26 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 6:10 am
How well do you know her/them?
That can affect what you'd want to do, and what they'd feel comfortable with.

RM
I agree, your relationship would likely influence the type of help she would feel comfortable requesting or receiving. I know you said that this was a very close co-worker, but depending on the nature of the relationship she may or may not want someone in her home housecleaning, witnessing firsthand coping with chemo side effects, etc.

If you sense that the situation may pose some financial strain, how about giving a gift card with a personal note saying that the money is simply intended to help to provide conveniences like food delivery, outsourcing of services normally done on one's own, etc. This could just be a first step until you have a better sense of how you might be helpful in non-monetary terms. In other words, the hope is that it shows you want to help but are also trying to be sensitive to understanding exactly how you can be of assistance. Just a thought.

TRC
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by TRC » Tue May 15, 2018 6:21 pm

Thank you for all the suggestions. To address the question of "how close am I to her?". We never really hung out outside of work and we never met each other's spouses. That being said, I think of her like a kid sister. I'm in Tech Sales and she was my technical side kick in all of our meetings. I think the universal answer is that cash is king and maybe the best gift is simply a check to deal with whatever they need.

mouses
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by mouses » Tue May 15, 2018 7:34 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 12:51 pm
djpeteski wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 12:41 pm
So we attended a fundraiser for her, a couple of years back, that also had a silent auction. I could not bring myself to overpay for the items being auctioned, yet I had no issue with handing her a few hundred bucks. Very weird of me.
I'm exactly like that too.
I dream of the day when people with serious illnesses don't have to do this or have bake sales, etc.

Dottie57
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by Dottie57 » Tue May 15, 2018 7:44 pm

Fletch wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 6:19 am
Be a friend. Listen to her concerns, fears, and aspirations. Visit frequently. Don't pretend that all will be okay when you both know it may not be. Be honest. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. All this in addition to addressing the physical needs of her and her family.
+1

Pigeon
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by Pigeon » Tue May 15, 2018 8:19 pm

mouses wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 6:18 am
It's amazing how often it seems that people who have cancer diagnoses that years ago would have been hopeless, survive and do well, although it seems very difficult going through the treatments. I would try to find the right attitude when communicating with the family as to whether they want emotional support, don't want to talk etc., and this may vary from day to day.

With young kids and medical treatments, they will need things like driving to appointments, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, child care, the proverbial casseroles customized to any eating restrictions. I would make it very clear you want to help, give them your phone numbers, when are you available, and that it is a genuine offer.

I think ongoing things like the second paragraph are more useful that a one time gift basket.
Cancer survivor who was raising 2 small kids at the time. This is spot on. I really appreciated help to keep my kids' routine as normal as possible too.

blackburnian
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by blackburnian » Tue May 15, 2018 8:37 pm

As another poster said, the more specific you can be, the better, so you aren't putting effort on her to come up with a task for you to do. You could say something like "I'd be happy to lend a hand while you're recuperating from surgery. I could bring dinner over [these specific days] for the family, or I could look after the kids on [x day]. I'm going to the drugstore tomorrow. Can I pick up anything for you?" etc. I wouldn't give cash unless you know they are really hard up, and I'd skip the cancer basket. (But a simple get well card would be nice.) After surgery will be the hardest time with two little kids. How she feels during chemo depends on what kind she's having; you could check in with her and see how things are going, then adjust your offer accordingly. She might want someone to accompany her to chemo appts (or not). Call to check in, but remember she'll be tired, so keep the conversation short.

fourwaystreet
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by fourwaystreet » Tue May 15, 2018 9:22 pm

There were many good ideas posted on how to help with your ill friend. I will take it from a different perspective, assuming there is a husband or a significant other in the household take that into consideration. Help out where you can....mow the lawn, trim the hedges. I was in a similar situation years ago and time spent on yard work and household chores was time not spent with my wife and children. Being a caregiver, maintaining a household, caring for children while maintaining employment is exhausting. It is nice to see that you are willing to step up.

irish17
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by irish17 » Wed May 16, 2018 9:56 am

I think the posts have covered a great deal of support. A few other ideas would be;
music a favorite artist/group cd or collection of songs
basket with art supplies for your friend and children
netflix subscription if they may enjoy watching movies.
There are websites to help organze meals/errands/etc
and for health up dates. One is caringbridge.com
Sending a picture of you and your wife/family with team x shirts or baseball caps
or with a favorite image of your friend's. They love dolphins, sunflowers, ladybugs, etc..
could be supportive image for your friend.
I think along with a gift/$ just ongoing notes of encouragement
thinking of you, prayers if they are a believer.
Especially, with your friend just having a newborn. $ may be good to help if family/friend may need to travel to stay with family early on with surgery/chemo scheduled.
You are a kind friend to be thinking about what will be best for your friend during this difficult time.

Hikes_With_Dogs
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Re: Helping someone with Cancer

Post by Hikes_With_Dogs » Wed May 16, 2018 10:35 am

As well as helping your co-worker, be sure to help their spouse as well. That is the primary caregiver and they will often be overlooked and overwhelmed.

Offer to help babysit or watch the kids so the caregiver can nap or take a break.
Food, as mentioned.
Cleaning.
Random chores that might need to be done. I can imagine it will be difficult to leave the house with 2 small kids, a sick spouse, etc.

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