When someone is going through a difficult time, the first suggestion given to well-meaning friends is usually to deliver home cooked meals. But because of the way cancer affects appetite, taste, and nutrition, a ready-to-eat meal isn’t the most practical way to help a loved one with cancer. If you want to do something kind for someone with cancer, try one of these unique suggestions instead.
1. Buy Treatment Gifts
Fighting cancer is a hard, exhausting process. But the treatments themselves can be quite boring, with long periods of sitting with nothing to do. Help your loved one beat chemo boredom by giving a gift to be opened during each treatment. Include encouraging messages along with a fun activity they can do at treatment. Puzzle books, movies, and audiobooks are just a few ideas for treatment activities. For more ideas, check out suggestions from Verywell Health.
2. Drop Their Kids Off at School
No one wants to expose children to the harsh realities of a parent’s illness, but it’s hard to hide when you’re fatigued and sick all the time. Help your loved one retain a sense of normalcy in their children’s lives by lending a hand with school pick-ups, drop-offs, and rides to extracurricular activities.
3. Tidy Their House
After a few months of cancer treatment, there’s a good chance your loved one’s kitchen table is stacked high with paperwork, their cupboards are a mess, and bedroom floors are consumed by laundry. When you’re constantly overwhelmed, it’s hard to find the mental energy to deal with clutter. Coordinate with your loved one’s spouse to declutter their home for a more peaceful environment.
4. Create a Safe Space
While you’re decluttering and cleaning, why not go an extra step and create a quiet, private space in your loved one’s home? When you’re stressed and fatigued, it’s wonderful to get away from commotion — even if “away” is just the next room. Furnish a nook in their home with a plush sofa and soothing décor to create a relaxing space perfect for reading, meditation, or just some quiet solitude.
5. Buy Their Groceries
Just because you’re not delivering meals doesn’t mean you can’t help your loved one maintain a healthy diet throughout cancer treatment. Stop by and take note of the ingredients in their cupboards. By keeping your loved one’s pantry stocked with preferred foods and brands, you take an item off their to-do list and make daily life a little bit easier.
6. Tend Their Garden
When you’re dealing with a life-changing diagnosis like cancer, lawn care doesn’t seem so important. But watching a once-flourishing landscape wither and die isn’t exactly going to lift anyone’s spirits. If your loved one takes pride in their lawn and garden, make a habit of dropping by to water, weed, and prune.
7. Send Cards
When someone is undergoing cancer treatment, they don’t always have the energy for a conversation. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need support. You can show your loved one you’re thinking of them without creating a burden by sending cards. Make sure you don’t stop sending cards halfway through treatment; it’s common for cancer patients to be showered with attention in the early days, only to feel forgotten later on. Mailing cards regularly reminds your loved one that they’re not alone. Not sure what to say? Read this advice from Cancer Care Parcel for guidance.
Few things in life are more taxing than cancer treatment. Even if they’re afraid to ask, your loved one is probably desperate for help. As you think of ways to lend a hand, remember that sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most — doing the dishes, walking the dog, playing with the kids. While these might not be grand gestures, they relieve your loved one’s burden so they can focus on healing.