Wendy is a local blogger that I "met" online. I will finally get to meet her in person at Blogher and I couldn't be more excited. Her blog is fairly new but it is amazing. Not only does she blog about things that every woman/mom would be interested in but she also talks a lot about what it was like to live with and beat breast cancer. She is SO young. And has a young family. When I decided to do host this contest for Del Webb, I asked her to share some thoughts on how we can best help and support those we know fighting the disease.
|Wendy and her family. How cute are they!!!!|
I was beyond honored when asked by Sharon to guest post on a topic near and dear to my heart. As a breast cancer survivor, many people have come to me asking what they can do for someone going through chemotherapy or radiation treatment. I've put together my favorite ideas with some suggestions to keep in mind.
-Does he/she have small children that require babysitting? Knowing that you're child is well taken care of in your absence is worth its weight in gold. When I was going through radiation treatment, I had to be at the hospital daily for a matter of twenty minutes: get undressed, get zapped, get dressed and go home. But I couldn't take my child with me. She couldn't be in the treatment room and I obviously couldn't leave her alone in the waiting room. Offer up your babysitting services!
-Meals are a biggie. I wasn't so much concerned with eating but I worried about my husband and child going without. There are several routes to ensure your friend and their family is taken care of. 1) drop off prepared meals from places like Dream Dinners that can be frozen and served later. 2) recruit other friends and family to bring homemade meals during treatments. Care Calendar is a web-based system to help organize this effort!
-It was really important to stay hydrated during chemo. I guzzled drinks like Gatorade and bottled water mixed with Emergen-C. A cute little care package with a reusable bottle and a box of Emergen-C is a great gift idea and would cost less than $10. But be sure to ask about specific taste changes. Chemotherapy drugs temporarily alter taste buds and not everyone can tolerate the same flavors, ingredients, or specific brands of water.
-Both treatments can really wipe a person out physically. Walking a flight of stairs can really make a cancer patient want to take a nap! Offer to vacuum their house, fold the laundry or take the dog for a walk. Everyday chores can be quite overwhelming.
-A simple, well-written card is always welcomed! Don't know what to say? Tell them they are strong, that they are fighters and that their hair coming out means the drugs are working! Encourage them to believe in their treatments and the education of their doctors. Remind them of their support system and the love that surrounds them. Cheer them on, as they get closer to finishing treatment. Tell them that having a positive mental attitude makes a difference. These words work wonders!
-Still tongue-tied? Hallmark stores have cancer specific cards. Serious, religious, and funny ones. Believe it or not, there is one that suits your needs.
-Lower your expectations. Sadly, I had a falling out with a good friend during my time during treatment. I wasn't keeping up with emails or returning phone calls and she became frustrated and angry with me. But I wasn't the same "me" during that time. I didn't have the brainpower to care about anything else other than my survival and my family. Don't feel offended that he/she doesn't make the effort they have in the past.
-Offer to go to chemo sessions with them. I didn't always engage in conversation during treatment but it was always great to know I had someone there by my side. Especially the first time...it was the scariest. And the last because it should be a celebration!
-Encourage them to find a support group of patients also being treated for cancer. There are tons of online support groups and many hospitals offer group services. It helps immensely to discuss thoughts, feelings and experiences with someone also going through the same thing.
-A phone call or email just letting them know you are thinking of them is better than anything!
On a personal note: While I was going through treatment I insisted to everyone, including my closest friends and loved ones, that everything was fine and that I was managing. This was a lie. I didn't want to burden others with my needs. I didn't want to make them feel uncomfortable with my disease. If you find that the one you want to help is telling you everything is OK and that they don't need help, think twice.
Thanks again to Sharon for allowing me to share my experiences. I hope this list helps!
THANK YOU so much Wendy!!! I am so thankful that you shared this with us.
Wendy has some other amazing posts on her blog that you should check out:
And since this is all in support of my GEORGENE VEHE'S SWEETS FOR TEATS CONTEST sponsored by Del Webb, click here to find out more details and enter to win a pink KitchenAid Hand Mixer.
All images via Wendy Will Blog