Wave the flag and ask for help!
Allowing others to help me – really help me- played a huge role in saving my life.
Fighting cancer is tough. Fighting it alone is even tougher. Asking for help and building a pit crew of friends and supporters invested in your success is critical to getting through the journey.
I know, it is not easy to ask for help even when you desperately need it. And how many times do you hear, “let me know if you need anything!” and inside you want to shout out a long list of needs? But your pride takes over.
What you really want to say is, “Yes, I need help with my mortgage” or “I can’t pay my electric bill” or “can someone help me clean the house” or “can you help me take care of my kids?”
During my year-long leukemia battle, I never wanted to ask for help but at some point, the bills started mounting and finally I had no choice. I remember sitting in bed as we entered month five of my hospital stay, listening to my husband fielding calls from friends and hearing him say, “No, man. We are good. Thanks for asking. We don’t need anything.”
What???!!! We were going broke and barely paying our bills.
I lost it. I told my husband we would need to start accepting help or we would lose our house. I didn’t feel good about it but I came to peace with it eventually.
From that day forward, not only did I ask for help, I delegated it. I also took to social media to educate the world about how to best help cancer patients. I told everyone: “Stop saying ‘let me know what I can do’ and change that to ‘here’s how I am going to help you.’” Takes out the shame and the guesswork.
Here are some tips for asking for, and getting, the help you really need:
- Be specific about your biggest challenges (money, childcare, etc.)
- Keep a running list of household tasks that you need help with, and pull it out when someone asks how they can help.
- Consider signing up with an online resource like CaringBridge, lots of helping hands, or managecancer.org to give others a way to sign up to help. These websites remove some of the awkward feelings that come with asking for help.
If you are a caregiver or a friend looking to help, think of the 3T’s — time, talent, or treasure.
- Time – Can you help with your time? Can you help with a ride to a doctor’s appointment or picking children up from school or practice?
- Talent – Do you have a talent/skill or service you can offer? House cleaning, organizing, setting up meal deliveries, providing legal or financial services?
- Treasure – or can you donate money for items needed? There is always so much to buy to prepare for treatment and surgery; picking up these items can make a big difference.
Remember, it is hard for your circle to help if you have no circle.
ArmorUp for Life, and allow others to step in and support you.
You can always pay it forward after cancer.