It is difficult to watch a friend suffer. The good news is, there are things that you can do to help. In fact, your help is needed, whether you are a close friend or a neighbor. Because sarcoma chemotherapy and surgeries are so intense, most patients have difficulty taking care of basic daily needs. Many are under significant financial strain due to medical bills and the inability to work. Your support can make such a difference in your friend's daily life, and can affect his or her level of hope and happiness.
Our members all agree on one point: don't ask how you can help, just DO something! An offer to help is best when it doesn't require the patient to think or choose. Patients can easily feel guilty, as if they are imposing or asking for help. So take the guilt out of a gift by choosing something yourself. Here are some useful gift ideas:
• Give gift cards for restaurants, gasoline, necessities, groceries, or a family outing.
• Offer to bring a meal on a specific night. If there are children in the household, choose something that most kids like, or bring a child-friendly dish and an adult dish.
• Pick up some groceries and drop them by the house.
• Call and offer a few free hours to do some household chores. This is GREATLY appreciated, but patients usually do not feel comfortable asking.
• Offer to keep the children on a specific night so the patient can rest or go out.
• Take pictures when visiting. Be insistent! The photos will be valuable to the patient or family members later.
• Offer to take the patient to treatment on a specific day or week.
• If you are good with finances or insurance issues, offer to help the patient organize medical bills, deal with the insurance company and arrange payments.
• If there are many community members willing to help, become a "volunteer coordinator" by keeping a schedule of visits, meals, and childcare. There is a free online tool to help with this task.
• Offer to start a web page for the patient and update it for friends and family to read online. Two free services are CarePages and Caring Bridge.
• Volunteer to put together a fund-raiser for the family. If you have no expertise in this area, ask other friends for ideas. Once you have a general plan, propose it to the patient for approval. This is a great way for the community to come together and do something that a family would not do for themselves, even if they desperately needed it.
• Hold a sarcoma event (like a local Team Sarcoma) in the patient's honor.