When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, the numbness sets in. It might take a few days, a few hours or even a few weeks, but then we have to get busy and find out how we can help and what resources are available.
Medical help and second opinions are the first things on the list, but then we want to figure out what else can be done. The following is a list, in no particular order, of online resources that we’ve both used and worked with as a family.
- Please Don’t say “Just let me know”! It’s happens all too often. A diagnosis of cancer for a friend or family member and the world stands still. Little things outside don’t matter anymore. Really who cares about the latest scores, news or even weather? Unless it directly relates to the treatment or diagnosis of our loved ones, nothing else matters.
It’s fear and sorrow like you’ve never felt before and you’re not even the patient.
- When you think no one understands what you’re going through, Facebook can change that for you. There are numerous groups that have members who are going through exactly what you are. If you don’t belong to Facebook, join it just for a few weeks to check out the resources. What Next on Facebook is a good example of a general cancer page that often hits the nail on the head for a cancer patient trying to explain what is going on with their body, mind or spirit.
- The Livestrong Foundation is very impressive and easy to navigate. Although we have not used the personal navigation, it looks amazing. My daughter participated in the Livestrong YMCA program and felt it was very worthwhile, helped her build strength back after surgery and chemo.
- American Cancer Society has many resources available for patients and their families. We were very impressed with all they had to offer, basically — we had no idea, until we needed it. The local cancer group has scheduled sessions to help women feel better by learning more about make-up with cancer, they also offer resources for those in need and free wigs for patients that are losing their hair.
- We can’t say enough good things about Meal Train. I’m not sure how my daughter’s family would have gotten along without the meals provided during her first year of surgeries and chemotherapy. A good friend signed the family up and then shared the information with their church, school parents and friends. For over months and Five days a week meals were delivered to her family. That’s not only a lot of food, but also a lot of love. It’s a free resource that relies on volunteers to spread the word, then participants are reminded when it’s time to deliver a meal. Once the initial set-up is accomplished, there is very little work for the initial volunteer to do, just a little bit of tweaking here and there.
- Cleaning for a Reason is a nationwide group of cleaning services, their mission is to give the gift of free house cleaning for women undergoing treatment for any type of cancer.
I marvel every time I think about these people, our local cleaning service Mary’s Maid Service came out for three months, on a monthly basis, to clean my daughter’s home. She never realized how much it helped until she came home from a doctor visit to a shiny clean house. The organization may not be in all areas, but if they are, it’s an amazing gift from a group of strangers sharing a gift of love.
- Bracelets by Marilyn is an Etsy shop that donates all proceeds to the Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City. We met Marilyn during on our first visit to start chemo and she was certainly a welcome sight. Marilyn is a cancer survivor and decided to give back by creating beautiful beaded bracelets that she gives to patients during her volunteer rounds. She will give each patient a bracelet in their “cancer color”. She also sells the beaded bracelets to folks at the center and online. This sweet lady has raised well over $35,000 for the center. That’s a lot of bracelets at less than $5. each and in just a few years.
- Care Packages for Hospital Patients A hospital is a place to heal the body but it certainly isn’t a place of comfort and rest. Care packages and gift baskets let you send comfort items to hospital patients (cancer and other conditions). When you personalize a package with items picked especially for the patient it means a lot to them when they are stuck in that hospital bed. Here are some ideas for what to include in a hospital care package.
- Tenaciously Teal was started by a young woman who is also a cancer survivor and went through many rounds of chemo at the local cancer center. She saw a need to reach out to fellow patients and her non-profit group was started. They visit local chemotherapy centers and give out Chemo Care packs to patients undergoing treatment at the time of delivery. Each care pack is filled with small items that help make going through chemo just a little easier. She will also mail Chemo Care packs to cancer patients for a small mailing fee. Check out my article on making a Chemo Care pack.