Coping With Cancer

5 Ways to Accept Help When You Have Cancer

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By Henry Ford Health System Staff

It’s not always easy to ask for help. For some, it can be hard to pinpoint what you need help with; for others, asking for assistance can feel like a sign of weakness. But if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, chances are your family, friends and medical team want to help you in every way they can — and they certainly won’t judge you for reaching out for help.

“By nature, people are good,” says Cynthia Ulreich, a nurse practitioner with the Henry Ford Cancer Institute. “If they’re asking to help, take them at their word.”

Of course, refrains like “Let me know if you need anything,” or “Just let me know how I can help,” don’t always translate into concrete actions. So here are a few ways to help others convert their good intentions into good deeds:

1. Let Others Make Your Meals

“Oftentimes, the smell of food can make chemotherapy patients nauseous,” Ulreich says. If you find that cooking diminishes your appetite, (a common occurrence) have a loved one cook for you or bring meals to you. Putting someone else in charge of your meals can also be an opportunity to incorporate healthy, whole foods into your diet.

2. Housekeeping Help

Most of us aren’t thrilled to tackle household chores, and if you’re not feeling well, they can be even more of a pain. Don’t be afraid to allow someone else to help keep things tidy or keep up with laundry. And at holiday times, having someone else decorate with you can be a fun tandem activity.

3. Pet Care

While you’re juggling medical appointments and other errands, sometimes your furry friends might get neglected. Most likely, someone in your support network is great with animals. Play to their strengths and let them handle pet care if it’s been weighing on your own mind.

4. Leisure and Entertainment

Some people simply understand how to show you a good time. You may be having a down day, but you probably have a friend or two who know how to make you laugh. Let them distract you with games at home or a night out or invite them over for a Netflix binge.

5. Talking It Out

Sometimes, we don’t want people to see us at our most vulnerable out of embarrassment. But chances are, your support network wants to hear about what you’re going through. If you have an open ear, take it, and don’t worry about taking up too much of someone’s time. This is a time in life to focus on you.

Related Topic: 5 Questions Cancer Patients Should Ask Their Doctors

In general, Ulreich says, newly diagnosed cancer patients just want to maintain a sense of normalcy. If that’s how you feel, don’t be afraid to communicate that to those around you, but be open to accepting help as it comes.  

“A cancer diagnosis can feel like a full-time job,” Ulreich says. And chances are, you have plenty of coworkers who are eager and willing to help you get the job done.

Visit henryford.com/cancer to learn more about cancer care at Henry Ford, including support services for patients, survivors and caregivers.

Check out some of our other Henry Ford LiveWell blog articles on coping with cancer, like advice on getting better sleep while undergoing treatment, tips for cancer caregivers, how to create a cancer care package, and more. And subscribe to receive weekly emails of our latest articles. 

Cynthia Ulreich is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner who works with cancer patients at the Henry Ford Cancer Institute at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.