How to help? I need your help...

Hi Ladies,
Quick question for you: I have a friend who is going through treatment and is being asked by everyone who loves her how they can help. 
I'd love your ideas for gifts, support, etc that go beyond a lasagne. What helped you? What's helping you? What do you wish you could ask for but feel awkward saying out loud? What surprised you as being helpful (or not)? Any and all ideas are very welcome. 
xxx Erin 

Comments

  • edited September 17
    @ErinB

    Welcome back and happy that you thought to reach out to our community.  Your question is a great one, and I don't believe has been asked before. Asking for help can be a challenge at the best of times. For an OVC survivor or anyone ill, it just becomes more challenging when one already feels a bit of a burden to others. So creating an inventory of ideas that friends and family can proactively execute would be wonderful to have. 

    I'll kick it off with a few of my own, but challenge our community here to add to this list.  In the meantime, my suggestions as follows:

    Set up and manage a Meal Train site (www.mealtrain.ca) for the survivor and her family.  The site enables friends and family to coordinate not just a calendar of meal support for the family but also build an inventory of gift certificates to restaurants and food delivery services. For a nominal fee it can be upgraded to also coordinate commitments to help with grocery shopping, child care and many other services to assist both the survivor and their family. One of our members, NadiaC, has had one set up and managed by a close friend.  The site also provides for updates. NadiaC has used that section as a blog where she has chronicled her journey.   

    Get a small group of friends together and coordinate a recurring Zoom conference with the survivor.  I have four friends in Toronto who set this up when I was first diagnosed almost seven years ago.  I had just moved 4 hours away making it challenging for my friends to get to see me, without imposing on my hospitality for accommodation.  Knowing that a zoom has been and still is there each month to keep me connected on a more personal level than emails or Facebook has been wonderful support for me.  

    Spell off the primary caregiver allowing them a respite from the rigors of the intense support that the survivor often requires. 

    Lots of things fall by the wayside during treatment and recovery.  Provide a monthly housecleaning service, or property maintenance service to the family.  

    How about coordinating a spa day, or even just a mani/pedi or high tea for the two of you. Something the survivor can look forward to when she's in recovery and feeling up to it,

    Some things to remember when supporting an OVC survivor and/or their caregiver:

    Don't press about visiting if the survivor seems reluctant.  The house is probably a bit of a mess and while you might say....don't worry about it, I won't even notice....it does bother the survivor.  But if you do visit, be prepared to make the tea or coffee, and clear and clean up after.

    If the survivor uses social media to share her experiences, good or bad, don't acknowledge with a "like" or other emoticon.  Pick up the phone and call....or email.

    Remember that when the survivor shares experience with you, she doesn't always need you to provide a solution. Just "be with her" in the moment.  It's called empathy.  

    Once treatment is complete and the survivor moves into recovery don't expect their "normal" to be anything even close to what it once was. Understand they will be going through a huge adjustment to their "new" normal. Your patience and understanding and caring is the best medicine they can get at that stage.  

    Allow the survivor room to express their feelings. They may talk about their experience for months, even years, after completing treatment.  It's a valuable release they need to re-centre and balance themselves.

    Don't be afraid to ask questions, even the tough ones. We aren't so fragile that the pure mention of our disease and treatment and prognosis are off limits.  In fact, most of us welcome the opportunity to share.  And you can trust they will tell you if something is too sensitive for them.  

    Acknowledge the efforts of their primary caregiver, usually the husband or partner or close friend or family member. They are the unsung heroes of our recovery.  

    Hope this helps somewhat and to our army of survivors in this community, I look forward to seeing your thoughts and suggestions posted.

     <3 


     

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