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How to help someone having chemo


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The Family Pastor at my church (there are 6 different pastors) was just diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She's the pastor of the children aged 12 and under and any family issues that arise from that. I teach a Children's Church class and know her decently well, but it's not like we're buddies.

 

She doesn't like to cook at all. She lives about 1/2 an hour away from me. She doesn't invite people to her house very much.

 

So, with those things in mind, what could I do to help her? She is scheduling a mastectomy and then rounds of chemo. I could make her food, but I have a feeling she'd just rather eat the food her family normally eats (they eat take-out a lot, since she can't cook.) Or she might be too sick to want to eat. Of course, I could bring food for her dh to eat and then they wouldn't have to worry about getting the take out.

 

I'm not sure if she'd want me in her house or not, since they don't normally have people to their house. I can certainly ask, but it's not a given that she'll want anyone there.

 

If you've ever gone through chemo, or know someone who has, what things are actually helpful that people do besides making meals (which the person might not have an appetite for anyway)?

 

Would just sending magazines or cards or little gifts be something helpful? I've never been thru chemo and don't know anyone who has, so I simply don't know how much help to offer. Will she be completely bed ridden? Will she still have a pretty normal amount of energy? Will she be sick constantly? Will it only be for a few hours after the chemo?

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I would consider finding out what their favorite take-out places are and getting some folks to go in on some gift certificates to those places. Or, you could find out their favorite home-cooked meals, make them and freeze them so that they could just heat them as needed. How old are her children? Could you offer to have them over so she could get some rest? Could you offer to set up rides for them if they have extracurricular activities? Books, magazines, nice lounge clothes, favorite music would all be nice gifts as well.

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Ime, people going through chemo sleep a lot. My mom loved all the cards and magazines that friends gave her, but it wasn't until after she had finished chemo that she even noticed them.

 

Dh's grampa recieved movies... lots and lots of movies. He LOVED that (he too was a little oblivious to where/whom they came from till after). Since he was in bed all day the movies were just the thing.

 

It's so hard to say what is needed, what would be intrusive, and what would not be wanted without knowing them. I've known cancer patients that were angry and mean (due to chemo/stress), I've known them to just want some company, I've known them to be loving and receptive/closed and bitter. It is hard to say. Everyone is different.

 

Sop seems to be magazines, lotions, smelly good stuff, feminine stuff that has nothing to do with breasts, movies (or gift cards for movies), books... Flowers are nice too. Maybe they'd want a netflix account for a time?

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There is a good cook book called "Eating Well Through Cancer". It has a whole section for caregivers/helpers. Check your local Goodwill bookstore. I see them in there all the time for a couple of bucks.

 

Babysitting

Knitting a warm blanket

Cute/warm hats if she loses her hair

 

All other responses have good ideas too :)

 

Be sensitive to their lowered immunity.

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My mil had stage 4 throat cancer. The most important thing to her was that her household kept running as smoothly as possible. Keeping her house clean, laundry kept up, groceries in the house. Those were important to her. If it were me I would want those things and would want my dc's lives to be as unaffected by my health as possible.

 

I would ask if you could:

 

Do a weekly grocery run for her.

Come in once a week and clean (atleast the bathroom and kitchen).

Come in once a week and do laundry.

Offer to chauffeur her dc to activities or offer to have them to your home for half a day on Saturdays.

If she has dc that are not school age you could offer to watch them during the times she has to go to get the chemo.

 

If she is reluctant to ask for help...it makes some people uncomfortable...you could ask her dh what you could do to help him. In helping him you would be helping to keep him a little less stressed as so he could be more attentive to her and the dc.

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I remember reading about a problem some chemo patients develop. They often become repulsed by whatever the last thing they ate before a treatment is. There was a study where they tried giving the patients something with no nutritional value (cherry candy I believe) just before each treatment so they would not become repulsed by anything nutritionally important. It worked. In that vein I would consider a big bag of candy in a flavor that she will not mind hating later.

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