"Our Nurse Practicioner told me early on that the most flexible families are the successful families..."

- Annie Gould, parent

Community Support: How friends, family, neighbors and others can help


Your community of friends, neighbors, and extended family can help you.

As the parent of a child with cancer, you may be saying, “I don’t really need help.”  Or, you may realize this situation is different, but you may not be used to asking for help. You do not have to go it alone. There are many ways to let others help so you can have maximum energy for your child and the rest of your family.

During this time of high stress, exhaustion, and worry, it will help you, your spouse, your children, and your extended family and friends if you let your community support you through the experience of your child’s cancer.  There will be many competing demands on your time; too much for any one person to do alone. This is like a marathon, not a sprint. If you were just beginning to train for a marathon, you would need to learn about shoes and clothing, you would want tips from athletes who have done this before, and you would need to understand how to break up all the tasks involved in reaching your goal.

The following suggestions are based on other family’s experiences. Share this Community Support section with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and extended family. If you are a parent, you can send the link to this section to others who want to help. If you are a friend, you can work with other members of the child’s community to organize support using these guidelines.

Four Reasons why Parents Should Let Others Help:

  1. The more others can help, the more time and energy you will have to take care of your sick child, be with your other children, and connect with your partner.
  2. There are some things that only you or your spouse can do for your sick child or healthy children at this time.  There are other things—like grocery shopping, cleaning, driving, and cooking—that, while necessary, you don’t need to do.   Let others do those things, so you can be with your children in the ways that matter most.   
  3. This won’t last forever; this is a family crisis. You will find a “new normal” in a while, when such help will not be needed.  But right now, there are things people can do to help you and your family.
  4. It is upsetting for parents, family, and friends when a child is diagnosed with cancer.  People around you feel better when they can do something or provide something you or your family needs. It helps them and you.  

Allowing people to help you is very important. But it is also important to show your appreciation when others help you, and to be aware they may be juggling busy schedules, too.  Let your community know that it is OK to tell you if they can’t do something you ask them to do.  If people feel they can tell you honestly when they can’t do something, such as take your child to soccer practice today, they are more likely to be willing to be called on another time.   It can also help to have someone coordinate such efforts for you   

Some research shows that it is not how many things people do for you, but the knowledge that there are people willing to help out that provides the most comfort for families.  

When people ask you how to help, direct them here, to http://curesearch.org/community-help. 

You might want to make copies of the web address (URL) for this page and carry it with you and give to people when they ask how they can help. Or, you can just tell them to go to the section called Coping with Cancer on curesearch.org and look at the Community section.

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