When living with cancer you may have times when you are not able to do things that you were doing before your cancer diagnosis. Fatigue, pain, nausea, loss of balance, loss of strength – there are many impacts of cancer and cancer treatment that can affect your ability to function in your life the way you need or want to. This is a time when you may need to ask for help, but asking for and accepting help can be hard.
People find it hard to ask for help because they don’t want to bother anyone or be a burden. The thing is friends and family genuinely want to help – it’s how they show you they care – and accepting help from your friends and family allows them to feel useful in a situation where they often feel helpless. Accepting help can be an act of kindness towards your friends and loved ones.
Often friends and family will say things like “let me know if you need any help” – which puts the onus on you to reach out and ask for help, when you may not even know what help you need.
Here are some ideas of tasks that can be allocated to friends and family for practical help:
- Household chores such as laundry, cleaning, gardening
- Cooking meals to put in the freezer
- Grocery shopping
- Walking the dog
- Picking children up from school, or taking them for a few hours in the day.
- Driving you to treatment or appointments
Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness or failure, in fact it is a strength. It shows awareness of your limitations, and an ability to prioritise your wellbeing based on your available energy and time. Asking for and accepting help will allow you to spend the small amount of time and energy you have doing the things you enjoy, like spending time with friends or family, going for a walk on the beach, getting a relaxing massage.
If you are not used to asking for help it can feel daunting at first. Here are some suggestions that can help:
- Prepare a list of specific suggestions to have on hand for when people say “let me know how I can help”
- Practice asking for help from people you feel most comfortable with first.
- Be ok with imperfection – accept that people may do things differently to you, and for now done is better than perfect.
- Utilise technology:
- Create a ‘WhatsApp’ or ‘Messenger’ group of trusted friends and family to communicate what and when you need help. Doing this over message rather than face to face can sometimes be easier.
- “Gather my crew” is a free online rostering tool that enables you to ask for and co-ordinate practical help. Once you download the app, you send invites to your friends/family to join your ‘crew’. In the app, you create tasks and publish a calendar with the help you need which people in your crew can then allocate to do that task.
Please contact our Nurses on 07 5445 5794 or email@example.com if you have any questions.
The information in this document is based on resources from the Cancer Council Queensland, and the National Cancer Institute (America). All information provided by Bloomhill is based on research and best practice guidelines. Our model of care utilizes the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) domains of wellness along with available clinical evidence. Always consult your care team regarding matters that affect your health. This is a guide intended for information only.