Families are in the trenches fighting cancer every day. If cancer hasn’t crossed your path, whether directly or through a loved one, consider yourself lucky. It’s easy to feel helpless when friends and people close to you are struggling. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going to give you some simple things you can do to help those who are facing the dreaded “C” word.
Do. Don’t ask.
It’s easy to say, “let me know if you need anything.” What the family needs is someone to say, “hey, I’m making you dinner.” Or “I’m babysitting - just tell me what day (or night).” Don’t give them the burden of asking. Just offer it.
Gift cards go a long way.
Treatments can sometimes take a patient and family far from home. Do a little research and purchase gift cards for restaurants, hotel chains and gas stations near the hospital they are using. A gift subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix may be helpful to someone who is bedridden. Some downtime and low key entertainment might be just what they need. And, of course, a massage gift certificate is a perfect way to care for the care givers.
Remember the siblings.
Cancer affects the entire family. Siblings often are trying to navigate many emotions like fear and jealousy. Commit to a sibling and offer to be there for them. Be a friend. Be someone they can lean on and talk to. If you send the cancer patient a gift, make sure you give them someone of equal to the sibling and include them.
Shortly after diagnosis, a family will receive calls, cards, and meals. Anything to help soothe the heartbreaking news. After time, these things fade away and the family is still traveling the long road. It could be months or even years. It’s a financial and emotional weight. Keep them in mind and reach out well after the dust settles.
It’s hard to know what to say to a family that’s struggling with cancer. But don’t disappear. Meet them where they are. Sometimes there are no words. Just be present. Reach out and enlist the help of others to send cards, letters and other nice/silly/fun things that will brighten the family’s day. Even an “I’ve been thinking of you” text speaks volumes.
These tips might not seem like much, but it can mean the world to a family facing cancer. Long days and sleepless nights can be an endless cycle. Little gestures of kindness can bring the family loads comfort.