Tips for the Caregiver, Friends, and Family of The Cancer Patient
The cancer patient’s family and spouse are probably in a state of shock or numbness for the first week, at the minimum, after they hear the heartbreaking news. They may be overwhelmed with organizing doctor visits around work schedules. Or a spouse may even need to get a job to support the family until disability starts (usually 6 months).What can you do to help?
- Offer rides to doctor appointments especially if the spouse is working
- I would only offer to be praying for them if you know this is something they would be glad to hear. Many families start to question their beliefs and feel that all the praying they have done already has only brought them to this point. Use your judgment as to whether this would comfort this person or just sound like an empty offer.
- Doing is what will show them support more than anything. Saying you are so sorry or are praying are both kind things to say, but real friends and people who care will actually do something.
- Bring them a freezable meal or already frozen, that can be put in the oven and done. Fresh meals are nice too, or both. The family will have so many new things to deal with that often the bare necessities are burdensome. This will save them the time at the grocery store, cooking time, and planning time.
- Don’t ring their phone off the hook or be offended if you don’t receive a personal call about their situation. Email would be so kind, allowing them to read it on their own time and giving them quick access to your email if they need you. Remember that they are the needy ones.
- Instead of saying I’m here if you need me, tell them you are coming Saturday to help by doing their cleaning or ask if there is a better day. Decisions are their worst enemy. So is planning. Certain things you can do for them frees their mind for the planning and decisions involved in the care of the cancer patient.
- Give them Money, Don’t offer a loan or make a big deal about it. Unless you know they are perfectly fine financially, tell them it is a gift and you know they would do the same for you if you were in the same situation. Is sounds too tacky and humiliating for someone to accept money, but if they do not have enough to pay their mortgage until disability starts, or even to buy groceries, heat their home, it is truly a gift that will also give them a boost of less worrisome days. They already have enormous things on their minds. If you can only give $50. or if you have millions and can give a lot more, make sure you tell them it’s a gift. Another loan is another burden you do not want to give them. I’m not saying pay for all their mistakes financially, or go overboard, but try to realize what their need may be and do not take no for an answer. I’ll never forget when I found out my sister-in-law had propane delivered to my home because she was worried I would run out in the middle of winter. She did two wonderful things when she did that: She showed me she really was thinking about me, and I had one less thing to pay for and I didn’t need to remember to call the propane company. Ok, 3 things.
- Offer your time to sit with the one who is ill if they can’t be alone.
- Take care of the regular vehicle maintenance.
- Don’t expect the family to show hospitality, joy, talkativeness, or to have time to hang out. Often the burden of the illness and everything that goes with it leaves a person feeling emotionally exhausted which turns into physical exhaustion. They just do not have the capability to go out and have a good time during the worst part of the illness. There may be some who are polite and won’t say no to your offer and there might be some who still act like nothing is wrong. My experience was that till I put in my 40 hour work week and dealt with calling doctors and checking my husband’s meds, laundry, and other household chores the most important thing in the world to me was to be able to sit on the couch with my husband. I didn’t know how much time I had left with him!
- To learn other ways to help or to get help click here