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Young Cousin with Bone Cancer

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2006

My cousin, who is 16 years old, was diagnosed this week with bone cancer (oseoarcoma). I live in close proximity and because our family unit is so small, am very close to him. He starts chemo next week for 16 weeks and then will have surgery to remove the tumor followed by another round of chemo. This is the first family member that has been diagnosed with this terrifying disease and I don't know how to best be there for him. I plan to visit regularly, and offer to help with anything my aunt, uncle or he may need....is there anything else I should be considering, or doing? I just feel so helpless and want to do anything to alleviate the sadness that has come over our family. Thoughtfully yours,

Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

I copied this from the Cancer Crusade letter I receive each week. Hope it can help. You do not have to do everything here but it can give you some ideas. If you are close to your cousin, especially if you are close in age, spend time with him/her, listen to him/her.

"My daughter was diagnosed with cancer in September, 2004. There was such an outpouring of support and so many people wanted to help that, after a while, it actually became something of a problem. We didn't want to hurt people's feelings, but all we could think of was what was going on at the hospital. With the shock of the diagnosis and so much uncertainty about the future, we really didn't know what we would need, but as time went by, and through much trial and error, we came up with a list of a few
things that really helped us out.

1. Play with our pets. We spent a lot of time at the hospital, and even when we were home, we were pre- occupied. We asked a neighbor to spend some time playing with our dogs
and giving them attention.

2. Pick up the mail.

3. Decorate our house for the holidays. I did not have the time or the energy, but when I put out the boxes for different holidays, my friends came over and put the decorations up. Later they took them down and put them away. It really lifted our spirits to come home from the hospital and see our decorations up. At a time when we felt we were missing out on so much, this made us feel like we were still a part of the holiday seasons. On Halloween, we had pumpkins on our porch. On Valentine's Day, there were hearts
hanging from a tree.

4. Deliver meals. One friend was the contact and she made a schedule and gave people food ideas (foods we liked, and not too many lasagnas in one month). We kept a cooler on the front porch so people could put the meals in it. This way we could keep germs out, and if we were busy or resting, we didn't feel obligated to visit. There were markers in the cooler so people could sign it (or you could put a pen and pad inside
for people to leave notes).

5. Take care of our plants (inside and out).
It's no fun to see things dying.

6. Remember the kids (siblings or children). People sent our son gift cards. This reminded him that others understood this had changed his life, too.

7. Donate items. Friends brought those household items that are convenient to have on hand: laundry soap, paper towels, paper plates, disinfectant wipes, etc. Other thoughtful gifts included gas cards, restaurant cards
and video rentals.

8. Help with cleaning. Some people don't want their friends to see their "dirty laundry," so they turn down offers of help with housework. Several Sunday school classes at our church took turns hiring a maid service for us. We loved it!

It's also important for friends and family to respect the wishes of the patient and his family when they say they don't want certain types of help. Maybe they don't know what they want. It doesn't help when others put pressure on them to come up with something.

The patient and his family may feel like they've lost so much control that they don't want others to do everything for them. They don't want to feel like they've lost control of everything, so sometimes it's best not to push them into coming up with ways for you to help.

It really helped us when someone offered to do one of the above because they were things that could be done without us having to sit there and feel incapable. It's really hard to sit and watch others take care of you, and it can make you feel guilty. That's not the point of helping. The point is to simply and quietly make the patient and his family's life a little better."

Dear God, we are so blessed to have many friends and family members who want to help us during this difficult time, but sometimes their generosity and questions about what we need can give us even more to worry about. Remind those who care for us that taking care of simple chores and supplying everyday necessities can be the kindest gifts of all. Amen

web: http://www.thecancercrusade.com

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