It can be difficult to know the best ways to help your friends or family after their child is diagnosed with a cancer or blood disorder. You want to do something, but it’s not always easy to know what they might need. More often than not we feel helpless in the face of such hardship, but every kindness makes life easier. With help from Courtney Miles and Erin Dove, members of our Emerging Leaders Board and cancer moms, we’ve created a list of kindnesses people did that they said made life during their child’s treatment just a little bit better.
Gift cards or certificates can make mealtime simpler when families have far too much on their minds. Local restaurants and those closest to the hospital are always appreciated.
While their child is in treatment, planning meals is the last thing on parent’s minds. That’s why dropping off meals is a great way to help; you could even set up a meal train with your neighbors so they’re covered for several weeks at a time.
Frequent visits to the hospital can add up, which is why gas cards can make a huge difference.
Visitors are always great, but too many visitors can become overwhelming. That’s why a quick coffee or snack drop-off is a great way to show you care.
Juggling all the appointments and tasks of everyday life can be difficult, especially with more than one child. With people to count on, the worry about siblings becomes a little easier to manage. “I loved that I had a few family friends that I could count on to help with my son while I was at doctor appointments or if we had to go the hospital unexpectedly. Not only did they swoop in to help after school, but they always did something fun to make him feel special and less worried”, Courtney remembers.
With everything changing so quickly, it’s easy to get wrapped up and push the marriage to the side. That’s why a simple offer to watch the kids so parents can have a date night is greatly appreciated, reminding them that it’s important to spend time together.
A small kindness can truly make a difference. Sending a thoughtful text or message just reminding the families that you’re there for them and that you care goes a long way. It’s even more special if you send a message on a treatment or surgery day, knowing what they will face.
It’s the little things that really matter and showing you are there to support families during their hardest moments is one of the best things that you can do. It may take some time for them to realize or admit it, but these families do need your help. They may not know what to ask for because they feel so overwhelmed, but all of these things provide a little relief from the stress. “It was hard to process when someone asked, how can I help? A lot of the time you don’t know how they can help, or you don’t want to burden them, so I never took advantage of those opportunities where it was an open-ended question. The ‘do-ers’, the people who just jumped in to help, were so appreciated,” says Erin Dove, thinking back on her own experience.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that treatment can last for years. Families need your support throughout it all. “True friends were the ones that were there for us from day 1 to day 1,170!” Courtney added.
Families facing a diagnosis for their child need a strong support system. It may seem like a small contribution, but it means a world of difference to a family just trying to make it day to day. We hope this guide has helped, and if you have any additional suggestions, please email us today!