I was diagnosed with Stage IV, HER2+, ER+ breast cancer at age 37. I was a working professional with two children under 5. A cancer diagnosis is devastating to all members of a family. In this LiveLaughLearn video, my husband, Jim, and I talk about things people can do to help a family in crisis and lighten the load. Some of these things include:

Create a website to delegate tasks

Asking for help can be hard. Offering help can be difficult too. A website like the easy to set up Lotsa Helping Hands is great.  A cancer patient or her immediate caregiver can post jobs. Then people who want to help can sign up for things that are truly useful.

Set up a meal train

While people going through chemotherapy may not always have the best appetite, families need to eat too! Providing easy to heat meals takes the pressure off. Remember that even people who live far away can order a take out meal by phone or internet, or send a gift card for a food delivery service.

Help with household tasks

Come over and clean, or hire a cleaner. Care for children during appointments so your loved one and her partner can go. Get a shopping list and head to the grocery store.

Thoughtful gestures

Send a card with a handwritten note.  Send some uplifting music. Give her a basket of scent-free natural beauty products. Bring a small gift for the kids. Offer to hang out with your friend so her caregiver can have a fun night out.

Crowd fund

Cancer costs are not always covered and loss of income from missing work adds up. A fundraiser is a fun way to support a family facing cancer treatment. If it’s too hard to organize, set up a PayPal account and use social media to encourage people to help out financially.

Remember that a cancer diagnosis, whatever the staging or prognosis, has an impact that reaches far beyond the period of active treatment. If you want to be there for someone living with cancer the best support you can give is clear communication. Don’t ask. Just reach out with a sense of flexibility. Be clear and specific about what you are offering and follow the lead of the person you want to support.  Saying “I want to bring you dinner ” opens up the opportunity for a cancer patient to say, “Well my freezer is full of frozen lasagna.  What I’d really like is a friend to eat it with.” This is the kind of help that countless people–family, friends and even strangers–have offered us that has made the most difference.

-Laura Hegge

Do you have anything to add to Laura’s list of things loved ones can do to help someone living with cancer? Let us know in the comments!

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