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how can friends help

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2008

I have a friend who's teenage son has cancer. There are 2 younger siblings at home too. My friend does not ask for help, however is appeciative when given. No one can take away the pain however their friends would like to be of help with other mundane things. I continue to ask her husband (stepdad) what we can do and he refers me to her. Can anyone please tell me what was most helpful to them or wished someone had helped with. The community has made meals in the past during a major surgery and for the holidays. Any ideas would be helpful. Thanks

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Yes. Rides are huge. You have not described the young man's cancer, but assuming he has treatments, setting up a ride network can help alot. Give mom and son, or son, a ride to chemo or to rads, if that is still going on.

Set up the meals folks if you can to do this network so maybe there is just one day a week for each, and come and pick them up and take them. And stay with mom (I am assuming) during treatment and be there to drive them home too. That is a huge comfort in so many ways.

I don't know the age of the parents, but if they are old enough that they were relying on the young man to do certain tasks like cutting the grass, volunteer to do some of those tasks for them.

When I was in hospital first time, my family came from far and wide, as did friends, weeded my garden areas, cleaned out my shed, got the pool shut down, just did a heckuva lot of stuff for me that I should have done on my own :). It matters.

If the sibling are young enough, set up a network of babysitters for them too. Mom needs time to herself. One of you can watch the sibs while another takes her out for a manicure or massage or something. It matters: caring for others requires caring for yourself.

The rides though. They are huge (along with the accompanying support). And the meals you've already mentioned.

Best wishes to you and to your friend and her son and her family. She is lucky to have a friend like you.

Take care.


Anonymous user (not verified)

Kathi, when I was in treatment with 2 young children the thing that stressed me most was trying to keep things as normal for the kids as possible. Anything you can do to help your friend see that all her kids get where they need to be, have fun things in their schedule, get school supplies and wardrobe in order, stuff like that will be huge. Your friend probably just needs to be able to know that many of the DETAILS of life are not on her shoulders while she is trying to cope with everything.
You might ask her to give you a schedule of regular times you and others can show up at her house and just be AVAILABLE for an hour or two.
God bless you for taking such good care of your friend.

lorihope's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2006

I hope I'm not too late to help. "What Can I Do to Help?" is a great book by Deborah Hutton, who had lung cancer. She's British but I found a copy on amazon.com.

Also, I'm a cancer survivor who wrote a book, Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know" that contains a list in the appendix of wonderful things people did to help (the book's based on interviews with scores of cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers, plus communications and medical professionals).

You can see several lists in the book at http://www.lorihope.com/?page=wantYouToKnow.
We recently set up a care group for a friend with cancer and keep track of her needs and how we're all helping at www.lotshelpinghands.com.

It can be tough when you're in crisis to actually know what you want or need, so it's helpful to offer specifics, such as "Can I pick up your dry cleaning?" or "Can I give you a break tonight so you can go out?" or "How about I take you to lunch?" or "I'm going to Costco - what can I pick up for you?"

Thanks for being such a caring friend.

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