The Simple Things

It is natural to want to offer a helping hand to those in need.  It is also natural to not know what to offer or how to help.  When it is a friend, family member or co-worker faced with a life-altering illness, the support we offer can be both emotional and practical.  In my work I have had the opportunity to get suggestions from those individuals who benefit from our support.  Below is what I call “Jill’s List” of helpful tasks:

  • If they have kids, offer to drop off dinner for the adults in the house, and take the kids out for dinner!
  • Send a quick text “I’m at Target.  Need anything?”
  • When you come to visit, ask if you can help fold some laundry or run a vacuum while you are there.
  • Email them links to things that are funny!  Belly laughing is good for recovery!
  • Take their dog for a walk if they have one.
  • Ask for a few of their favorite family recipes and make one once in a while for them.  Include paper plates, napkins, etc. to save them from doing some dishes.
  • Offer to pick the kids up from school and take them for a couple of hours.
  • Offer to walk the dog.
  • Offer to come change sheets on beds and throw the dirty ones in the washer.
  • Bring a relaxation or guided meditation CD so they can take some time for themselves.
  • Mail them a card.  Not just at a critical time, but even a couple weeks later, to let them know you are still thinking about them.
  • Offer to drive kids to lessons, games, or practices, just to lighten up their schedule.
  • On days they feel good, invite them to go for a walk together.  Fresh air, movement, and friendship – what could be better??
  • Ask their spouse/caregiver what else might be helpful.  Don’t forget to ask the caregiver how THEY are doing.  Being a caregiver is often a thankless role, so they need support and breaks, too!

Note that several items in the list begin with “offer”.  It may be more helpful to say, “If you would ever like me to……” rather than “Let me…….”  so as not to put added pressure  on the individual to turn you down if this is not what is needed at the time.  An open invitation may be best.  Also, once you have offered to do something or even fulfilled a helpful task, don’t be offended if the individual doesn’t display the level of gratitude you may have expected.  If it is a difficult day for this person, the level of gratitude they’ve shown may be all they can muster at the time.  Along this line, if you would like to visit your friend/family member, be sensitive as some days just may not be good days for a visit or a short visit may be more helpful.   Most importantly, be sensitive—to both yourself and your friend.  We are all learning how to walk this path.

Below is a list of suggested items to purchase for that someone special faced with a cancer diagnosis.  This list comes from Amy Camie’s  “create your own Cancer Care Package for those you love”.  Please visit Amy Camie’s website to learn more about her beautiful music and her own cancer journey.  www.amycamie.com

  • “The Magic Mirror” solo harp CD…to support the immune system, balance brainwave function, reduce anxiety and stress…I listened twice a day…great for the patient and caregivers
  • Peppermints for dry mouth
  • Water Bottle…to encourage drinking enough water…especially before chemotherapy
  • Journal…to encourage the expression of thoughts, feelings, fears, dreams, etc.
  • Green tea sampler
  • Thermal light-weight lunch box/bag for packing healthy snacks to take during chemotherapy
  • Pretty soft scarf would be nice for when the hair falls out
  • Cozy, soft blanket to keep warm during treatment…my temperature dropped every night and I would be freezing before bed so extra blankets were great
  • Small Neck Pillow
  • Warm footies to wear around the house
  • Funny videos
  • Gift cards to gas stations, local restaurants and grocery stores so everyone in the family can breathe easier
  • Moisturizing Lip Balm

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