Q. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer late last year. She has three kids, and I'm trying to figure out how I can best help her and/or her kids.

A.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis can be extremely overwhelming, especially when paired with the responsibilities that come along with caring for a family. If you have a friend or family member who is diagnosed with cancer, there are many ways that you can help them. If you aren’t sure what you can do, it’s okay to ask! Check in with your friend or her caregiver regularly to see if they need help with any errands, household tasks or if they can just use some company. The patient and caregiver will often have to balance doctor’s appointments and treatments with their children’s hectic schedules. This can be exhausting for anyone, let alone someone going through treatment. Some ways to assist are to offer to drop off or pick up her children from school or extracurricular activities. If your friend simply needs time to rest, offer to babysit her children once or twice per week. It could also be helpful to provide them with meals if needed. Always be sure that you will be able to follow through with your offers before committing.

Creating a schedule can be a productive way to ensure that your help remains frequent and consistent. You can coordinate with other friends, neighbors or co-workers who are willing to help with the tasks. For example, one friend can bring dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while another friend picks up her children from school on Wednesdays. You might consider using an online scheduling tool such as My Cancer Circle to help keep track. Always assume help is needed, even if you are aware of other people helping out. Your support and encouragement can go a long way!

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