This blog post was written by Radwa Moussa-Youssef business owner and mother to three children, one of whom has cancer. To read more from Radwa, visit her blog website RudizBlog.com.
We receive several messages daily from people asking for guidance on how to be of positive assistance to kids and families diagnosed with cancer – kind people who want to make a change in someone’s life but don’t know how. The word “cancer” on its own is so scary: it creates feelings of fear, sadness, helplessness all at once. That’s why my piece today is to help all of you out there who have the hears – and sometimes the means – to help but don’t know how. I pray you find it insightful and helpful.
When cancer hits… the whole family is affected. Days are turned upside down and the word “normal” becomes very hard to define. However, there is a fine line between taking life 15 minutes at a time because cancer doesn’t allow you to plan any further and waiting 15 minutes for cancer to be in control. Cancer needs to be fought both physically and mentally, just like any other challenge in this world. It sounds easier said than done, but losing to cancer is NOT an option!
I personally know families who unfortunately lost their kids to cancer and they especially know the warrior spirit has to be maintained throught the fight! Even if we lose an angel I choose to never say that cancer won – because cancer has nothing on their spirits. Nothing.
SO before you feel helpless and not sure what to do, here are 10 different ways to help a cancer family. These are all derived from personal experiences, whether it was something beautiful done for our family during our cancer fight or things we came across to help others.
- Reach out to them regularly and offer to help with anything: food, water, errands, even laundry. Even if you know they are strong and have things are out of control, it still gives a sense of comfort that there is a support group to lean on when needed. It’s good to know that it is okay to ask for help and utilize the support when it is offered. Because even the strong ones need help!
- Talk about your life and distract them a bit. Yet don’t make your kid’s fever or broken toe sound like a big deal, because let’s be real… you will get “the look.” Like, really? Broken toe?? That said, families need to hear normal stories, they need to remember that there is life other than cancer. They need to be taken out of their bubble every once in a while.
- Respect their space, but don’t let them feel lonely! Being alone with cancer is the worst feeling ever. Your friend is tired and they probably won’t be able to get back to you right away, but know that your attempts make a difference and make them feel less lost.
- Talk to your community and show them support. Banners, group pictures, motivational messages, small videos, support events… All these things might sound small but they have a HUGE impact!
- Whether or not the family is struggling financially, offer to help if you can! Hold fundraiser events for them and encourage others to do the same. The pressure that cancer causes is beyond anyone’s imagination – from medical expenses to the daily life expenses that take a back seat because of the diagnosis. They most probably will never ask whether it is their pride or their exhaustion preventing them. Any relief is much needed! Whether they are going to use the funds to pay bills or take a vacation, know that you positively made a difference. Make your efforts discreet and classy – the love behind it is what matters most.
- Don’t forget the siblings! They are often left out and the parents are the ones left worrying about creating balance. Buy small toys, tell them they are doing great! Tell them you’re proud of how strong of siblings they are and how they grew up and are responsible. Encourage them, and above all, listen to them and tell them they are loved.
- Hold their hands, hug them, and tell them it’s going to be okay, even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment. They need to feel the reassurance in your voice to know that they can get through this!
- Don’t get tired! Yes, you reached out a few times but time is never on their side and their journey can get boring and long. There’s nothing worse than friends giving up or getting lazy on them!
- Research with them. Share tips on how to handle treatments. They can be too busy with treatment that they don’t have energy to learn about other therapies, good nutrition and way s to support the body after all the toxicity it’s been through.
- Last but never least – pray! They pray and pray again! We are born and created differently for a beautiful reason. No matter where or how you pray, God is listening. There are moments where cancer families need mighty power to lift them up!
Cancer is a beast, and no one should have to fight it alone. From a cancer family fighting for the fourth time and going in six years with our hero, my heart goes out to every new diagnosis every day. It goes out to every mom who gets her heart broken and every dad who strives to maintain his sanity to keep protecting his family. Every three minutes a family somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. If we can’t stop that, then at least we can spread awareness on how to help and support them. One day, we were them – freshly diagnosed. Now we are still in the middle of it all… and God willing, we will never, ever give up.