Know a Child with Cancer?
Do you know of a child with cancer?
Here are some ideas on how to help.
Often, when we learn that a friend, family member, or neighbor has a child who has been diagnosed with cancer, we don’t know what to say or how to begin to help. This list, compiled from experience and from suggestions given by Julia Reichert, director of A Lion In the House, offers 10 ways that you can help.(Please also remember that cancer treatments can span a long stretch of time–even years–so extend your hand to help as often as you are able! And, don’t forget to let them know about the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation. We are here to help.)
1. Lend a hand with household chores: Offer to rake the leaves or weed the garden, take the car to the shop, pick up groceries, take a pet to the vet, etc. Families often don’t have time to take care of their chores, and having a trustworthy friend help out can be an incredible relief.
2. Volunteer to cook a meal: Even better, offer to make a bunch of meals that can be frozen and heated up quickly in a microwave or oven as needed. Find out what the patient and his/her family really like to eat. Also remember that chemotherapy can cause painful mouth sores, so in that case try to make a couple meals that are not acidic.
3. Arrange for limo vouchers or taxi vouchers (Great solution for co-workers, church/synagogue members, other group members): Whether a family has to commute two hours or 20 minutes to the hospital, an on-call limo service or taxi vouchers can help alleviate the added problem and often high cost of parking a car for several hours in a hospital parking lot.
4. Offer to babysit: Caregivers need a break, so offer to sit with the child and read, watch a movie, or keep them company while they sleep at the hospital or at home. Also, parents may need babysitters for siblings while their child is at the hospital or clinic receiving treatment.
5. (For teachers) Arrange to send notes/drawings home: Receiving mail from classmates and friends can really brighten a child’s day and warm up a stark hotel room. One homeroom teacher arranged to have paper and markers in the front of the classrooms, so that the child’s friends could write a card for her at any time. The child received a batch of cards from her friends every week, and it always cheered her up!
6. Ideas for gifts:
- Extra pairs of soft pajamas (flannel or cotton are good for air-conditioned hospitals); button-up fronts and low pockets make it easier to deal with IV lines and spontaneous doctor exams.
- Slipper socks.
- A special, soft blanket or squishy pillow (the blankets and pillows at the hospital aren’t the most comfortable).
- Activity or storybooks: there’s a lot of hurry up and wait on treatment days or while the patient is hospitalized. Find out what the child likes to read and do for fun.
7. Appoint a spokesperson: Families are often bombarded by calls to check up on the child’s condition. Work with the family to appoint a spokesperson to be the go-to-person for information and updates.
8. Siblings need attention, too: When the sick child is confined to the house, offer to take the other siblings on a walk, window-shopping, or to the movies. Find out what the siblings like to do. Don’t pry with questions about the family, but be ready to listen and reassure.
9. Listen and Be Sensitive: Don’t wear the parents out with questions. Don’t bring up tough questions unless the parents/caregivers offer to go there. If a parent has lost a child, don’t say “Well, she/he is in a better place now.” or “I know how you feel.” Most parents feel that there is no better place for their child than with his/her family, and unless you really have lost a child yourself, you can’t possibly understand.
10. Stay in touch! Don’t avoid the family because you don’t know what to say or do. If you’re nervous, send a card! If you want to help and don’t know what to do, ask someone who is close to the family.
ECF has helped me tremendously with the support of my Caseworker, Eileen, as well as the volunteers with the holiday wish lists and in making sure Ty had a wonderful birthday every year. And when times were really hard, ECF helped out with meals and food. I don’t think I would have made it through without having to talk to someone who understood. Thank you ECF
Where to Find Us
Central Regional Center
77 Brant Ave.
Clark, NJ 07066
(908) 322-4323 x17
Sr. Central Regional Director