Sunday, February 23, 2014

New to Childhood Cancer Tips: How Others Can Help

When we were first diagnosed everyone and their mom (literally) asked how they could help us. We were so overwhelmed with Grace's new diagnose we really had no idea. We didn't know what we needed at the moment, what we would need, or how often we'd need it. So for the family new to cancer, I thought I'd list some things I wish I had thought of then. This page from City of Hope on how Others Can Help was also very helpful.

We found it really hard to accept help at first. It's a painful reminder every time someone helps that your child having cancer is not a dream and its tempting to try to pretend it isn't happening and that you don't need help. But without help you won't make it. Having more help than I really even need has allowed me to play with my kids more, and that helps me bring the pendulum of normalcy back in their favor. Plus there's a lot more to do than I expected beyond the time spent at the hospital. I clean more, sanitize more, do laundry more. I avoid as much as possible going to high-germ places like Target and drug stores where sick people flock to. I have less time to grocery shop or do things like oil changes or get haircuts.

As far as watching Grace's brother, we've relied mostly on family. We've had tons of offers for people to babysit him, but he's two. So we try to keep him in familiar environments with familiar people as much as possible. All the same, he needs to get out too! So we sometimes ask that people pick him up from my mom's house and take him to the park for an hour. And to come over and play with him for a bit so I can get chores done while he still gets play time. As hard as cancer is on Grace, it's a huge strain on her brother too, and his needs are as legitimate as hers.

Overall I feel like people have been miracles in our lives. They've blessed us in so many ways. I feel like the reason we're still in one piece right now is directly due to all the ways people have been loving us and blessing us.

Here's my list of how others can help:
  • Giftcards to Costco, grocery store and favorite restaurants 
  • A few frozen meals are great to have handy 
  • House cleaning and/or funds to hire a housekeeper
  • Pet cleaning and care such as bathing cat, cleaning dog poop, feeding fish, etc.
  • Itunes and Amazon giftcards to download movies
  • Coloring books and travel-type craft kits
  • As far as toys go, Grace received tons and Luke, her brother, some. It's really great when every kid in your family gets a gift when your CC (cancer child) is sick, because it's a hard toll on the siblings as well. I promise, they need some cheering up too.
  • Gas cards, parking cash
  • Target and grocery store runs. I found it best if someone could schedule these weekly, or to just call when they're on their way to the store 
  • Lawn and pool maintenance
  • Car maintenance and filling up car with gas
  • Help with laundry
  • Funds to help purchase an ipad and/or laptop
  • Blood drive organizer
  • Watching siblings or taking them out to the park and other "outside" activities
  • Designated contact person who updates facebook posts, calls the great-Grandmas without Internet skills and generally fields calls so we don't have to
  • Meals set up and scheduled. MealTrain worked really well for us, and my sister-in-law set it up and remained the contact person for it. We realized every-other day was more than sufficient as people tended to bring tons of food each night. We asked people to text us the day they were due to bring food so we could confirm we'd be home to receive it
  • Ask someone to help set up a fundraising option, but be wary of fundraising sites online. I found a lot of them took up to 10% of donations, one even took 100%, so be sure you know what you're singing up for. We set up a fund through our church's benevolence fund. Then people who donated could even get a tax write-off and we weren't taxed either. Another option is for people to pay your bills directly, which also shelters people from gift taxes, but talk to your tax person to see what's really best
  • Design help for "Team Grace" logo, shirts and help to make printed postcards from Costco that have Grace's photo and a "thanks for helping us" message that can be handed out easily 
  • Someone to research grants, and cancer society and support groups for you
  • A designated address to receive cards and gifts, especially from strangers. We used our church address and phone number
  • A designated team of neighbors that you can call in emergency to watch siblings, even in the middle of the night, if you should have to rush your CC to the hospital
I've also assembled a list of items you will probably need here

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