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No one should have to go through childhood cancer alone. However, it may feel awkward accepting offers of help. Sometimes it is hard to even know what is needed. These reminders can help families struggling with asking for or accepting help:
It can be overwhelming for families, especially those who are new to the cancer journey. These tips can help:
Appoint a friend or family member to coordinate help. This is one less thing for parents to have to manage. And it can take away some of the awkwardness to have someone else ask for help on your behalf.
Depending on needs, parents may want to identify more than one person as a point person to coordinate assistance. This should be someone who:
The many needs during the cancer journey can be overwhelming. A first step is to keep a list of what you need. Talk with another family who has been through a similar experience. This can help you anticipate needs that you might not think of ahead of time.
Once needs have been identified, put together a list of the people who have already offered their help and others who can be asked. Match them with your needs. It can help to think of people in different areas of life:
Depending on the number of organizations and potential volunteers, it may help to have a volunteer coordinator in charge of different organizations.
When people first find out about your child’s illness, you will probably receive the most offers of help. Keep a list of people who offer help. You will need assistance throughout your journey.
When your child is newly diagnosed, consider asking for:
When your child is in the hospital, consider asking for:
When your child is in outpatient treatment, consider asking for:
Free websites and apps can help families manage and update friends and volunteers easily.
CaringBridge offers a place for sharing journal entries and allowing friends and family to post messages of encouragement. The site has a calendar for people to volunteer to help and a link for people to donate to a personal fund through GoFundMe. CaringBridge allows links to other websites and enables families to post requests on a calendar. However, tasks may not be assigned from the calendar request, only if a journal entry is posted.
Visitors may be confused by Caring Bridge's requests for donations to 'power your site' and believe they are giving you a donation rather than the website itself.
Lotsa Helping Hands is a free website that enables people to organize support, post news, and receive messages from others. The first step is to invite people to join your site. The website has a calendar function where you can post requests for help such as meals, rides, childcare, shopping, and visits. Announcements of new requests are automatically shared with the member list. They can view the calendar and sign up.
You also have the ability to assign a member to a specific activity, an option not available on some other sites. However, the person assigned does not receive an email notification, so be sure the person agrees to the task beforehand.
Online donation sites make it possible for people to give money directly to families to help them manage out-of-pocket costs associated with pediatric cancer. Friends and family can help spread the word about the fund through social media and email. These sites charge fees per each donation.
Together does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.
Reviewed: June 2018