Advice from Families Who’ve Been There
- Don’t take “no, we don’t need any help” from a family as their final response. Please keep asking. And instead of saying “Let me know what I can do”, say what you are willing to do, such as “I’d like to mow your lawn.” Or “I will pick up the kids on Thursdays”.
- Please don’t say “I don’t know how you handle it, I just couldn’t do it”. What are we supposed to do? We aren’t handling it because we are superior people, we simply have no choice.
- We need friends to call for no reason. Sometimes people just don’t know what or how to say it so they just don’t call at all. When you call, ask about everything, not just our child that has cancer.
- Send a hand written note (even if you are local). The endless stream of medical bills and statements in the mailbox gets old quickly.
- Encourage them to set up a donation account at a local bank where people who want to give them money can do so.
- Visit them – hospitals and clinics are lonely places
Arrange to bring someone to them for haircuts, pedicures, manicures, etc. Childhood cancer patients need to be pampered now and again too!
- Get involved in a cause and help raise money and awareness on their behalf
- If you don’t know what to say – say so: don’t say something stupid and insensitive instead of being silent
- Before your sense of humor, laughter is after all some of the best medicine.
- Consider making a donation in their name.
- Take care of yourself! It’s hard to focus on your own individual needs when your child has cancer. But, you will be no good to any of your children if you don’t first take care of yourself. Try to eat healthy, keep your communication open, take time to walk around the block for some reflection time.
- Keep all hospital bills, doctor bills, insurance explanation of benefits, prescription records, other tax deductible receipts (tolls, parking, meals, hotels) and all medical correspondence in a separate file.
- If your child needs to gain weight – Carnation Instant Breakfast works wonders and can be used to make chocolate milk and milkshakes. It also tastes much better than Ensure!
- The best thing I found that I could do when my little brother had cancer was to just be there for him. We hung out together, watched movies, drew pictures. I think it helped him when I was just even in the same room with him, especially during his treatments.
- Accept your situation as quickly as possible. Try to quickly get over the “Why us?” question. Stay positive and as happy as possible!