During the month of October, we all look for ways to help support those fighting breast cancer. ?This week, we feature a post from the blog NotTodayCancer that offers?ideas for anyone who would like to help a friend or loved one during cancer treatment.
For the original blog post, click here:?NotTodayCancer How to Help a Friend
The following is re-printed with permission from livingproofHB, blogger of NotTodayCancer.wordpress.com.
It?s October again. ?In every store?or restaurant, you?ll see some shopping opportunity to donate to breast cancer research or awareness. ?And all that pink is a touching show of solidarity, but how much does it really help? ?Survivors and the ones who love them are thankful for the fundraising and research, without a doubt. ?But there are?tangible, person-to-person, right-now ways to help a survivor who?s going through the physical and emotional rigors of treatment.
Following?are some ideas, inspired by friends and family who have helped me through treatment both times?that I have had?cancer. ?And following these ideas, I?ll cover some facts about the financial impact of treatment, and a way to help with fundraising.
First and foremost: Be in her corner. ?Your friend is still your friend, she?s just moving through some very frightening things and she will need your support. ?Maybe you?re not emotionally prepared to help her deal with something so serious, and?you need to just hang back for a while. ?But if you?re reading this, chances are you?re ready to help.
Keep her spirits high whenever possible. ?Even when she?s in pain, there?ll still be something funny to watch or beautiful to see or relaxing to listen to. ?For me, not long ago, it was an afternoon of getting out colored pencils and coloring line-art pages?with my friends while we listened to music and caught up.
Offer to help her understand?insurance forms or other such paperwork. ?It is possible to be too fatigued to think clearly; I?ve been there.
Go to a doctor?s appointment with her. ?A second set of ears is a huge help when she?s processing so much information already.
She might need a smoothie.
Ask her, ?Can I take you to the grocery store?? ?Even if she can manage once she?s there, it?s going to be a challenge to get the bags from the car to the kitchen and get everything put away.
Send her a smile. ?This doesn?t need to cost a dime ? send her something sweet or funny via text, or Facebook or Pinterest?? whichever social media sites you have in common. ?If you?d like to send her something tangible, greeting cards are great too. ?Trust me, they?re such nice counterpoints to the medical bills she?ll be getting.
Prep some meals for her. ?She needs to eat well but is too wiped out to cook. ?Think veggies and protein, and maybe some comfort food. ?She will have the most flexibility with meals that can stay frozen until she?s ready to thaw them and bake them.
Gift cards are a great help. ?These can be practical (very helpful for runs to Target or CVS), or for a special treat (Sephora?), as she will need a pick-me-up but will be on a tighter budget.
Spring for a cleaning service. ?(Disclaimer: The organization Cleaning for a Reason will clean a woman?s house once free of charge while she is in treatment, but in my experience, they see so many requests that they ask some patients to reapply for their services after a month or so.) ?It?s one more thing off her mind, so she can focus on getting the rest her body needs.
Now, about the costs of treatment: It?s a fact that cancer treatment will have a significant and lasting financial impact on her household. ?She is shouldering medical bills, co-pays, lost wages due to lost work hours, prosthetic costs (like wigs and breast forms), travel expenses (driving to weekly chemo and/or daily radiation, not to mention longer-distance travel for a clinical trial), and incidentals (cleaning supplies to keep things disinfected while her immunity is down). ?All of this adds up and can be overwhelming.
Also a fact is that the financial assistance organizations available to her are overwhelmed as well. ?And many of them require more financial documentation than is typically gathered even at tax time ? after which she might still be denied a grant. ?One rep from one of these funding organizations suggested I open a?GoFundMe?account so that long-distance and online friends could help me cover my medical expenses. ?(This is an account best opened by the patient herself or by someone she trusts, as it involves knowledge of her bank account information.) ?Even if you?re unable to donate, just spreading the word and copying the link to her funding site will help let others know so that they can help. ?For better or worse, the most effective funding options for her are going to be grassroots efforts from people who know her directly or through a friend. ?And every little bit will count.
Above all, help from the heart. ?We all need support sometimes, cancer or no cancer.