Your Child has Cancer – Accept Help

Fifty Ways People Can Help

by Les Friedman, Mikey’s dad

When your child has cancer, his life is turned upside down and your entire family is catapulted into a new world.  What was once manageable becomes challenging. Mowing the lawn, getting dinner on the table, changing oil in your car or walking the dog – there’s just not a lot of time for these things. Accepting help from other’s is difficult for many of us. But when your child has cancer, it is time to accept help wherever you can.

Let People Help When Your Child Has Cancer

If you are horrified at the idea of letting a friend tidy up your home or make a meal for you – let that fear go. Don’t stop anyone from dropping off dinner, vacuuming your floors, folding your laundry or raking your leaves. While every family is unique, and every situation is different, support from others provides strength. Your will need that strength throughout your child’s treatment – beginning, middle and end.

Family members, friends and neighbors all want to help. Letting them do so can make the challenges you face each day, a little easier.

 Fifty Ways People Can Help When Your Child Has Cancer

In a previous blog post, I mentioned keeping an ongoing list of things that people can do to help your family. I gave a few examples but I thought compiling a larger more comprehensive list might serve useful for others. It’s a great place to start when people ask what they can do or how they can help. So here goes, here are 50 ways people can help when your child has cancer:

  1. Finances are a burden so gift cards and gas cards will come in handy.
  2. Walk your dog.
  3. Feed your cat (dog, chickens, rabbits).
  4. Babysit one of your children.
  5. Take the healthy sibling(s) on a play date.
  6. Send a note or a card to you.
  7. Send a note or card to your child.
  8. Bring a basket of snacks to the hospital for you.
  9. Drop off a case of water in your child’s hospital room.
  10. Bring lunch to the hospital.
  11. Give you laundry detergent pods to use for the inpatient laundry machine.
  12. Buy you a monthly parking pass for family members when your child has a prolonged hospitalization — hospital parking gets expensive!
  13. Give gift cards for food options in the hospital or nearby places like Panera or Subway.
  14. Buy an extra coffee when driving through Starbucks and drop it off at the hospital.
  15. Bring a home cook meal to your house.
  16. Stop and pray WITH you – it’s so much better than being told, “We’re praying FOR you and your child.”
  17. Talk with you about normal everyday things – anything. It’s exhausting to only answer questions about cancer and treatment.
  18. Call and have pizza delivered to your house.
  19. Make you food that can be frozen, labeled with heating instructions and put in a container that does not have to be returned.
  20. Call you when they are shopping and offer – “I’m at the store. Do you need anything?”
  21. Lend you a Keurig while your child is in the hospital. Hospital coffee is the worst.
  22. Buy you a Netflix subscription.
  23. Water your plants.
  24. Do your laundry.
  25. Collect your mail.
  26. Shovel your walk.
  27. Rake your leaves.
  28. Mow your lawn.
  29. Weed your garden.
  30. Text or email you just to say they are thinking about you.
  31. Drop off books and magazines for you and your child.
  32. Stop by the pharmacy and deliver the prescription to your house.
  33. Pick up the healthy siblings from school/gymnastics, karate/soccer.
  34. Organize a blood drive to benefit your child.
  35. Drop off the essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste…) for an unexpected hospital stay.
  36. Visit your child in the hospital – but don’t stay too long.
  37. Fill a shoe box with useful items for the hospital like: toothpaste, a new magazine, breakfast bars.
  38. Pick up/drop off your dry cleaning.
  39. Send you and/or your child a funny card.
  40. Give a roll of quarters for the hospital vending machines.
  41. Bring something special for your child’s siblings.
  42. Return or pick up library books for you.
  43. Go for a walk with you on a regular basis which gets away from the all-consuming world of cancer for a little bit. Walking with friends gives you someone to lean on who you can talk freely with.
  44. Send a quick email, text, or message saying they are thinking of you.
  45. Bring school work back and forth.
  46. Bring messages and greetings to your child from his/her classmates.
  47. Support the siblings who are at home by sending them fun mail to make them feel special.
  48. Give lots and lots of hugs.
  49. Offer to babysit, either in your home or at the hospital so that you can have some time alone with your spouse, or have time to run errands.
  50. Create a drop off meal schedule. Have the meals planned around your schedule and when you think meals would be most needed, such as on treatment days, long test days or extended hospital stays. Place a cooler on your porch so you don’t have to think about racing home to accept the delivery of a meal.

To learn other ways on how you can cope when your child has cancer read our blog posts, Pediatric Cancer Financial Toxicity and  How to Cope When Your Child is Diagnosed with Cancer.

If you’d like to download the list, click here.