In This Together: Help Me Help You


Guide for the families and friends of cancer patients

The Advocacy Networking Group of Gilda’s Club South Jersey has compiled this simple guide to aid those of us who want to help friends and loved ones through a cancer diagnosis. This is a compilation of suggestions from patients, caregivers, family members and friends.

Don’t be afraid to offer and I won’t be afraid to ask.I know that people want to help — I WILL LET THEM!Some ideas…

  • Tell me what you can do for me
  • Help me with household chores, laundry, dishes and especially kitchen and bathrooms
  • Offer handyman services
  • Arrange rides to my doctor appointments, the grocery store, Gilda’s Club
  • Stop by for a visit, but call first, and don’t overstay your welcome
  • Take me out for some fun — movies, mall, the park, ice cream, pottery class
  • Make a “cancer-free day” — no cancer discussion whatsoever
  • Bring me some magazines, puzzles, coloring books, relaxing music
  • I might like some easy crafts or needlework for long waits in the doctor’s office
  • Bring me a movie, but make the popcorn at your house — I might not be able to tolerate cooking odors
  • Please bring some meals but check my dietary restrictions first
  • Teach me relaxation techniques that will alleviate some of my stress and help me sleep
  • Pick up my prescriptions and dry cleaning
  • Change clocks and smoke detector batteries
  • Please do my grocery shopping and help put the groceries away
  • My lawn and garden look as tired as I feel — they need attention, too

Things I really like…

  • Cards and notes in the mail
  • Scent-free toiletries and cleaning supplies
  • Gift cards for gas, groceries, Amazon, spa treatments, Netflix, parking fees at hospitals
  • A comforting quilt to take to treatment

Men are a little different...

  • Bring a friend or two to play cards
  • Help me finish that project I started before I got sick
  • I like dinner and a movie, but check on my favorite foods and let’s make it an action flick
  • Please drive me to the hardware store or the doctor or to radiation

Take my kids. Please!

Help with the kids…

  • Be a homework helper
  • Bring a FUN meal for the kids to enjoy — chicken strips, fries, bucket of dirt for dessert
  • Drive the kids to sports practices, games and dance recitals
  • Take them for play dates

If my child is ill…

  • Bring over bubbles, silly string, nerf gun, but don’t forget the other children in the family
  • Make a tea party and bring a stuffed animal as a guest
  • Board games are always fun: Apples to Apples, Sorry, Yahtzee, Trouble, etc.

Help me Communicate I want to keep in touch with family and friends…

  • Please understand that I have good days and bad days and might not want to talk
  • Write letters, send mass email updates or start a phone chain
  • Update Facebook
  • Create a tactful “Do Not Disturb” sign/email so I can rest
  • Be an advocate to make calls or write letters to the insurance company
  • Commit to serving as the designated note taker at my doctor appointments
  • Allow me to decide what and how much info to share
  • Help with Skype and Facetime, and general tech support to stay in touch with family and friends

Some things I probably don’t want to hearNot helpful…

  • Everything will be okay.
  • How are “we” today?
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • Cancer will make you a better person
  • My thoughts and prayers are with you
  • I know about this miracle cure…

Use what works. Add what you need.

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