It seems like it was just last week… its been more like 20ish years. I remember when our family friends made the announcement at church. One of their sons had cancer. It was a family I babysat for, was home-schooled with and I taught their kids in Sunday School. The “C” word seemed like such a scary thing to me, after I was just a kid. But I watched an amazing thing happen… our community got together to support a family facing childhood cancer!
As an adult, My own family has faced cancer. I’ve watched close friends fight for their children. It doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is, when a child is sick, everything else stops. It can be a challenge for those of us who love them and want to help. What should we do? How do we support them? I’ve got 5 ways you can support a family facing childhood cancer that are sure to help!
Be There. Be there… it might seem simple, but the best thing you can do is actually be present for the family. When you say you’ll do something… do it. If they mention they need something or help in some way, don’t wait to be asked… do it. And not just at the beginning, 3 months, 6 months and a year from now… cancer is a long, tough road to travel. There may be months or even years of treatment and hospital stays ahead. And while cancer quickly becomes the “new normal” for families, the emotional and financial strains remain.
Practical Gifts are the Best. Gift Cards for gas, dinner, nights out so the family can take a break from their new “reality”. Change for vending machines in the hospital. Things like hand sanitizer, hand lotion, mints, gum, calling cards, granola bars and kleenex are all things you could toss in a little gift bag for the family when you visit the hospital. Drop off meals that easily freeze and will keep for a while.
Don’t Forget the Siblings. My family walked through something pretty traumatic when I was 12. Thankfully it wasn’t cancer, but it was just as scary. The focus of my entire family was on my sister and it was easy for the rest of us to get lost in the shuffle and forgotten. Despite how much I love her, there were definitely days where I resented my sister and what she was going through (it didn’t help that I was a tween at the time!). Everyone’s time and attention was on my sister. While I was (and still am) overjoyed she survived the accident and made it through surgery and recovery, I would have really appreciated it if someone had taken the time to talk to me. To ask me how I was, offer me some support, take me and the rest of us kids out for a day… so we could go back to just being kids… even if was only for a few hours.
Say Something. A phone call. A little note. A long letter. Whatever it is, tell them that you’re here for them, you’re available for whatever and you’re not going anywhere. Even if it’s just a quick “I’m thinking of you” or “You’re in my prayers”, it will mean the world to them!
So why am I talking about a less than cheery subject right in the middle of the Holidays? Well, this Holiday season, Aflac wants to remind us to be thankful. Thankful for our health and our loved ones, and to remind us to give back. Aflac’s Duckprints Program is an ongoing celebration of the unsung heroes in the fight against childhood cancer, and continues their mission to help eradicate the disease through raising donations and awareness.
You too can leave YOUR footprint in the fight against childhood cancer! All of the net proceeds from Duckprints merchandise, like the annual holiday duck, go to hospitals treating childhood cancers in the U.S. Aflac is also donating an additional $2 for every post, share, tweet or retweet using the #Duckprints hashtag on Facebook, instagram and twitter!
By taking 5 seconds to click and send out a tweet, you added $2 to the growing millions! Together we will eradicate childhood cancer!
Has your family or a family you know had to face serious illness? What are your favorite ways to support a family facing childhood cancer?
PS. That boy that I used to babysit that was diagnosed with cancer? He’s grown into an amazing young man and recently got married! 🙂
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.