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Having cancer is simply hard. It changes the life of the person and everyone around them. Often treatments have harsh side effects and everyday tasks become hard or impossible to do. It’s especially sad when a child gets cancer. No one wants to see their child not able to enjoy the carefree life of their childhood. It breaks our heart to see a child suffer. The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) was formed by parents of children affected by cancer. Their goal is to promote research and to support families of those suffering with this disease.
The fact is, we often don’t know what to do when a friend or loved one has cancer. One simple thing we can do if we have an unwanted vehicle is to donate a car to the ACCO and help them in supporting families and children who have cancer. It’s easy and a great way to make a difference.
Here are 12 things compiled from cancer survivors of ways they appreciated support. Consider these ideas the most meaningful acts of kindness they received.
- LISTEN. Just be there for them to rant, vent or simply talk about everyday stuff. It’s wonderful to know that someone is there to listen and ride out this storm with them.
- LAUGH. Nothing alleviates stress better than some levity. Laughter is the best medicine. When you stop in to visit, listen and offer some humor. It doesn’t have to always be so serious.
- BRING FOOD. It’s always nice to have a meal for you family to eat when you’ve been busy with doctor appointments, chemo treatments, worrying about medical expenses, etc. A delicious meal is one less thing to worry about and can calm a stressful time.
- TAKE OVER HOUSEWORK. When a loved one has cancer, much of the time and energy is spent for that person leaving a lot of house chores undone. Choose one or two days a week that you will go over and clean the house, do the laundry, or other chores that the family doesn’t have time for. Tell them that they can text or call you if needed. Even simple tasks like taking out the trash, bringing in the mail, or cleaning a litter box can be a lifesaver.
- ATTEND MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS. Offer to drive them to the doctor or treatment appointment. Or you can just offer to attend with them if they have a ride. Emotional support at this time is often very appreciated. Sometimes the patient is in pain as they wait for test results or for the physician. Having a friend there, helping to distract, entertain, or talk to can make all the difference.
- DO YARD WORK. If you see leaves piling up, snow needed to be shoveled, or unattended weeds, jump in and take care of it. Attending to the lawn chores is typically last on the list when dealing with cancer. Ask to see if there are any maintenance or home repairs needed that you can help with.
- BABYSIT. When a mother is running her child to chemo treatments, it’s so nice to have someone who has offered to watch the other kids. It gets hard asking all the time, so offering is to watch the kids is typically very appreciated. This includes pets too.
- ERRAND RUNNER. Cancer patients and their families are often swamped with appointments and health care needs. They can sometimes use help with running needed errands like a trip to the post office or a grocery store run. Offering to take the patient for a walk to get out and move around is often appreciated as well.
- GIFTS. You can get a gift box or basket together with little things they open each day. The gifts can be small and include a positive message for the day. It can give the patient something to look forward to each day. Little gift or snack baskets are fun to receive and help a person feel remembered.
- SPEND QUALITY TIME. Even if you don’t live close, people with cancer recognize that you have gone out of your way to visit with them. Hospital visits can do wonders to lift their spirits. Talk about things other than their cancer, chat like you did before they became sick. It’s important to keep things normal and let them know that your friendship hasn’t changed.
- ACT FOR THEIR CAUSE. If there is a 5k run, biking event or other activity that you can do in the name of your loved one with cancer, it can be a big boost for them. You can even gather a team together to “Walk for Life” or some other event in their name. You can do it to raise money, or just to honor them and support their recovery. Another act of kindness would be to give blood when needed.
- HELP ORGANIZE THEIR HOME. Do they need to do work at home? Help set up a home office for them. If they are too sick to come into work, perhaps a home-office system will work for them. If the cancer patient is a child and a room needs to be organized to best care for them, offer to help make it happen.