Thank you Pfizer for sponsoring this post. Join Pfizer’s This is Living with Cancer™ initiative by sharing your story with #InspirationLives on Facebook and Instagram to support and inspire those who have been affected by cancer, and be sure to check out the LivingWith™ mobile app available via iTunes and Google Play!
“How can I help you?”
This is a question that not all caregivers of someone with cancer may be prepared to answer. From personal experience with our son’s cancer treatment, I can’t tell you how many times I have responded with “nothing,” even if that wasn’t necessarily true. This response often came from feelings of being overwhelmed, not wishing to be a bother to others or simply from being too emotional to even communicate what I needed at the time.
If you have someone in your life who is a caregiver, or know someone with cancer, you may express a desire to help them in some way. The caregiver may be receptive, or they may be hesitant. Know that any hesitation does not mean that the caregiver needs nothing. They may have hurdles in verbalizing their needs. Here are a few ways to show support to a caregiver, even to one who may not be direct in expressing their needs.
Offer house keeping or cleaning services
Taking care of someone with cancer doesn’t leave much time for traditional house cleaning. Volunteer time to pop in and wash a few dishes or vacuum the floor. Or, if money allows, hire a cleaning service to head to their house a time or two. We experienced both: someone who volunteered to clean our house for a few months and a group who hired a cleaning service for us for a month. Feel free to think outside the box, too. In the winter time, shoveling snow from a walkway to create a clear path for the patient and caregiver can be just as awesome as cleaning inside!
Volunteer drives or accompaniment to doctors’ appointments
The need for this will vary by patient. For instance, since we had a child, we were always with our son. However, there were a few times where I had to take my son to appointments on my own. It would have been nice to have someone along for support or as an extra distraction for an upset little boy.
Offer sitter services
Allow the caregiver time to rest by volunteering to sit with the cancer patient for a bit. Allow the caregiver to choose the time, if possible, so that they can determine the best time a rest. Even just a few hours can make a difference!
Shopping pick up
With many grocery stores offering online order with curbside pickup, caregivers can order groceries online. Offering to grab these groceries can be a big time saver for caregivers.
There is always travel involved when it comes to caregiving. Gas cards help alleviate some of the expenses that come along with this.
Restaurant gift cards
One of our most frequent expenses that accumulated was food. We lived almost a hour away from the hospital, and treatments took over the majority of the day. We ate out much of the time. Research to see what restaurants are near the treatment center or hospital and grab gift cards to make it convenient.
Offer to bring a meal to the caregiver and their family. This is especially helpful on treatment days, when the time spent away from home is lengthy and tiresome, leaving little time for preparing meals.
A tool that caregivers will find helpful is the LivingWith™ app. As part of the This is Living with Cancer™, a national awareness program, Pfizer launched LivingWith, a free mobile app designed to help manage some of the daily challenges faced by people living with cancer.
Although it was developed for cancer patients, caregivers will find several features of the LivingWith app exceptional in helping orchestrate various needs. The LivingWith app has a “requests” section, in which caregivers can ask for anything from a meal to a ride to the doctor. Rather than having to call around and potentially ask multiple people, the request may be seen by anyone within the patient’s circle, and anyone available will be able to respond.
The LivingWith app also has a section for keeping track of test results and the mood or pain level of the patient. Caregivers who are responsible for note-taking or scheduling medications for the patient will find this section helpful, as well.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.