Families dealing with childhood cancer feel constant stress and exhaustion, but they may not know how to ask for help. You may want to help, but you don’t know how. Offering practical help and support makes you feel useful while taking some of that stress off the parents so they can focus on the young patient. Here’s five ways to reach out.
1. Clean House
With long hospital stays, endless doctor visits and the day-to-day routine of helping a child battle cancer, parents don’t always have the time or energy to clean house. Welcome the family home from the hospital with a sparkling clean home. If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning the house yourself, hire a cleaning service, so the family can schedule the cleaning.
2. Gift Cards
Cancer adds a significant financial burden to the family. Gift cards are an easy way to lighten that load a bit while treating the family to a hot meal or entertainment. Restaurant and movie rental gift certificates are two easy options.
3. Be There
Visit the family as long as they are accepting visitors, but don’t overstay your welcome. The visit offers a break from the daily routine of the hospital. Lend a listening ear to the parents. Be cautious about offering advice or making insensitive comments. Simply listening is enough.Families facing childhood cancer deal with a lot of stress, but offering your support helps the parents focus on the child.
When the family has other children, finding child care or getting those kids to activities is often challenging, and potentially expensive. Offer to babysit siblings occasionally so they can get a break from the hospital. Alternately, volunteer to shuttle kids to practices, school, play dates and other activities.
5. Entertainment Baskets
Pack up a basket with items to entertain the parents, patient and siblings. The siblings especially may spend a lot of time in doctor’s offices or hospitals with little to do. Books, toys and activities are examples of items to include. Try to pack something for every family member.
Read more heartwarming stories about kids helping kids with cancer.
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