Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My loved one has cancer...what can I do?

Hello! I wanted to share an update on my mother's condition. Last week, she had surgery to remove (hopefully) the last of her cancerous organs and tissue. Today, she goes back to Houston for a post-op exam to see if they got it all. We are very optimistic about this!

She has had a hard week, with the passing of her father on Friday, being the only relative who could handle his affairs and funeral arrangements. She is a true testament to the strength of a woman, I'll tell you! How she does it is beyond me.

I have a friend who is a breast cancer survivor herself. One day I asked her to send me an email listing her favorite things done for her by her family and friends while she was going through treatment. She not only gave me a list of her favorites, but asked her fellow BC survivor friends to give their input, too, so I could list them on my blog. Many thanks!

The following list was provided by my friend Marie, a breast cancer survivor and some of her survivor friends:

I actually loved my cards and notes from everyone the most, as I treasured the fact that someone cared enough to write their feelings, good wishes and thoughts to me during the difficult times.

Having someone to update friends and relatives with the latest information so that I didn't have to re-hash everything over and over again was one of the most helpful things.

Someone to organize meals for days following surgeries and such and stuff for me, so I didn't have to feel so much like I was asking for help was so helpful for me and my family. Some friends set up an account with carecalendar.org, where people can sign in and volunteer to bring dinner on set nights. It also displays for everyone a list of the things the person can/can't eat. It can also be used to sign up for errands, driving kids, etc.

(Sometimes the patient's churches have a schedule for volunteers to help. Make sure the volunteers know about dietary restrictions and allergy information, as there are lots of things that are suggested/forbidden on the patient's diets.)

I loved the all-organic fruit basket from Whole Foods I received. I could used one of those every week. I also received a gift certificiate to SoupPeddler.com but I have to admit it wasn't to my taste. If you like their seasoning, it's a really nice service, though.

Also, I agree that you really can't have too many flowers. :-) People rarely send flowers nowadays, so they do make a statement. The few arrangements I received really did cheer me up and make me feel special, so it's not an outmoded or frivolous thing.

When I was in heavy duty treatment - I could barely go to the bathroom (that is another story). My daughter was a big help but she was just 17. (An understanding spouse or family member is a real blessing in this area!)

My office paid for a few house cleanings from a maid service, and gave a gift certificate to EatOutIn. If you haven't heard about them, you place a food order to EatOutIn from a participating restaurant and they pick up and deliver it to you. It was great. In fact, I have a good friend in our office now who is newly diagnosed with BC and we are taking up a collection for EatOutIn for her family.

After y'all mentioned flowers - those and all the books and everything is wonderful to get. But I also thought of how I enjoyed a simple card or note. They can bring lots of joy.
Setting up a wiki, website or blog for updates really helps to cut down on the need for expensive phone calls and giving out repetitive information.

My favorite gift was a hat that said, "@#$! Cancer". For other sassy clothing items, visit www.planetcancer.org/html/store.php?sec_Id=7 www.cafepress.com/chezchemo

Some Ideas of Survivor Gifts I remember receiving:
Cancer Beanie Bears like the “Angel Bear-Pink Sky”, the “Beanie Bear - Cure”
Christine Doll that you squeeze and she sings “I Will” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney from choosehope.com.
Crystal Stones and stones that had meaning like “life,” “love,” “cure,” etc.
Spa Certificates
Cleaning Services
Catered Meals
Glass Hearts with Swarovski crystals from “Expressions from the Heart”
CDs – all types
Inspirational Books like “Angel Meditations”
Inspirational Maya Angelou Bookmarks
Real fruit flower bouquets that are edible
Bath Salts & Bath oils
Home-made Stone Crosses
Home-made soups with customized soup labels
Scarves & Hats (skull Caps)
Angels – all types with sayings
Shaman pin/pendant
Survivor Design Mug
Humorous DVDs
Wine Country Bath Salts
Pink Tool Set
ipod (from one of my kids)

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