HuffPost reporter Caroline Bologna asked families affected by pediatric cancer to share what they wished people understood about their struggle and how to help. She offers a range of ways you can be supportive, but certain themes emerge: Do less talking. More doing. And more listening.
Don’t ASK what you can do. OFFER to do something – anything. Make dinner, mow the lawn, go food shopping. Families are so overwhelmed that they may not even know what they need.
Leave the medical advice and platitudes at home. Your opinions on their treatment plan or how they should pursue a “miracle cure” based on an article you read online are not helpful. Leave that to the doctors. Nor is it helpful to say, “It will be ok” or “God doesn’t give people more than they can handle.” Yes, it is more than they can handle and you’re making them feel bad about feeling overwhelmed.
Stay present in their lives. And listen. Just because you don’t know what to say doesn’t mean you should stay away. They need to talk and be heard. It’s the only thing that matters to them right now. They don’t expect you to fix anything.
Don’t forget the siblings. Their lives have been turned upside down, too. The grown-ups in their life are upset and their routines have likely been disrupted. A little special attention can be reassuring.
You can read this excellent article in its entirety with all of its tips, on HuffingtonPost.com.
You can also show your love and support directly by creating a pediatric cancer care package. Simply Real Moms, an online parenting magazine, offers this helpful list: