Thursday, April 24, 2008

more ways to help

A woman I don't know personally — Mary, a sarcoma survivor who runs the Adult Bone Cancer Survivors Web site — posted a link to this list of ways to help friends who are in treatment. I thought it was worth posting here, as well. (What follows is copied directly from the Web site — I hope that's OK, Mary.)

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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.


liz said...

That's a great article! I just want to plug one of the articles it links to, too, because I thought it was fantastic as well... you can find it here.
I can say from my own life experiences that having people affirmatively offer help is so much better than saying "Let me know if I can do anything!"

Elena said...

Speaking as someone who can offer little in the way of concrete help at the moment (given the distance involved), I'm doing my best to show my caring by working very hard to finish an overdue baby blanket for one extremely beautiful baby boy named Benjamin.

However, I noticed that there's no mention of offering help to cancer patients/survivors by knitting, crocheting, sewing, or otherwise crafting caps or hats for those undergoing chemotherapy who experience hair loss as a side effect. There are a bunch of websites on the internet that support this cause. Most of the patterns are not to my taste, but they're adjustable, and creative crafters can come up with their own. This is a general suggestion about a cause I support. In the case at hand, I reserve the right of first knitter, though I certainly hope my services aren't called into action. I wish I were there to cook for you, Em.

Jo on the go said...

I want to participate in this summer's Relay for Life here in Wyoming... I have an e-mail in to the organizer to find out more about how it works. I am the world's worst at raising money, but having someone dear to me suffering is motivation to find funds for research.

And Lizard and Leigh and I are plotting on other fronts... Big hugs,

Mary said...

Everyone, make sure to check and see if there is a Team Sarcoma in your area. We are adding more constantly, and there should be at least 50 events worldwide in July. One reason I strongly recommend it is that Relay for Life gives virtually nothing to sarcoma research. It is an inspiring thing to do, but if you want to raise or give money that will help sarcoma patients (like me and Emilie and a bunch of young adults), please consider a sarcoma cause too!