It’s difficult for most of us to give up control but this is one thing you must do when you are facing a diagnosis of cancer and impending treatment. Your physicians will take control of your treatment; telling you when you need lab work, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and follow-up tests. This can be a good thing because you can focus on other aspects of your life where you do have control.
As soon as family and friends know that you have cancer, you will be hearing, “What can I do to help?” Don’t turn them away. They truly want to help you and your family. Instead, take control and let people help. Give them suggestions of how they can help, so you don’t end up with five pans of lasagna (which your kids won’t eat), three pans of tuna casserole (which you won’t eat) or two cars showing up at the same time to pick up your kids for soccer practice!
Determine what help you do need or want. Some ideas are picking up your children from school or after-school activities, helping with rides to the doctor, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, taking you out for a ride and talking or just keeping you company when you are having a down day. If you want help with meals, make suggestions about what sounds good or what your family will eat. If you would prefer, you can suggest a gift card from a restaurant, so your spouse can pick something up when you don’t feel like making a meal. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Not only are your friends and family giving you a gift of their time and help, but you are giving them a gift by allowing them to help you!
If you want to send thank-you notes, here are a few ideas:
- Ask each person who helps you out to address an envelope with their name and address. This will allow you to send a note and not have the issue of finding their address.
- Ask your spouse or kids to help write the thank you notes. Even small children can draw a picture and you can write thank you.
- Allow a friend to help out with the thank you notes.
You and your family are in control of visits. Ask family and friends to check before they visit. You may be experiencing extreme tiredness and all you want to do is rest. It’s okay for you or your spouse to say, “Today isn’t a good day, but check with us tomorrow.” Again, they truly want to be there for you, so allow them to visit – but on your terms.