When you are sick (diagnosed with cancer, undergoing a surgery) people have the best intentions of trying to help you. It’s engrained in us to try to cure people with homemade casseroles. While these acts of love come with the best intentions, it can be overwhelming to try to organize so many people. Or, you might be very poor at asking for help (like me!). When I was diagnosed, I was young, healthy, and independent. I had never asked for much help before and didn’t like asking for help.
So how do you ask and accept help without it becoming a part time job and without it hurting your pride?
1) Find a point person
If you can, find a person to help organize others. Your best friend, sister, or father can step in and field questions from others on how to be helpful. This takes tremendous pressure off of you. Answering numerous questions, emails, phone calls can be exhausting; let someone else act as your representative.
2) Create a list of potential projects
Think about your daily and weekly tasks (your mental or physical list of things to do). Now write down anything that you, personally, don’t NEED to complete (e.g. shovelling the snow, walking the dog, purchasing groceries, picking kids up from after school activities, etc). Be truthful here. Is the world going to stop if someone shovels your walk for you? These are potential projects your point person can have completed on your behalf. Giving up some of these tasks can free up more of your time to rest or do what you love.
Many people are going to want to bring food. If you are going through chemotherapy, this can be a tricky one because your appetite and taste preferences can change greatly. I like using Meal Train (www.mealtrain.com). You can indicate your (or your family’s) food preferences and other details to organize help with meals.
3) Set Boundaries
Even though you may be extremely grateful for everyone’s help, you need to be clear with boundaries. Many people may want to stop by your house to visit. I don’t know about you but for me, this means a lot of prep work that I don’t want to do when I’m not feeling well (clean my house, get out of my PJ’s). If you don’t want company, don’t be afraid to tell people directly that it is not a good time for a visit. Those who are truly there to help you, will understand. No guilt attached.