When you feel like you are losing friends and support as you are going through cancer, it’s not always because people don’t care. It often may be only because they don’t know how to help you. Considering at the time I was actively consulting people in my professional life to get organized and be more productive. So naturally, it made sense for me to create lists.
Once I realized people wanted to help, I started putting the practices I taught into place.
Plan ahead. Use the time between your diagnosis and treatment to evaluate your upcoming appointments as well as your routine schedule and responsibilities. List out the responsibilities you won’t be able to manage during your treatment and recovery, and approach your friends and family with a plan to establish who will do what and when.
Ask multiple people. While your closest friends and family members may want to be your heroes, it’s not always realistic. Don’t be afraid to reach beyond your inner circle. “I also asked my client.” I was a corporate consultant. I had a strong “Type A” personality and image and realized I need help. One of my key clients ended up sharing how she loved to cook and came over four nights a week after work and made my dinner and prepared meals for the next day. It was a gift for her as well as I taught her about my favorite recipes.
Create a social media platform to communicate with friends and family. I used a “for profit” website and ended up having people a little confused and actually donating money to something that I never benefited from. Today I would recommend creating a “Private” or “Secret” group on Facebook. This group page will make it easy to organize help and keep your support group up-to-date on your progress. Facebook has interactive apps you can use to create lists and posts documents. This is so much easier than having to text everyone and the introvert in me likes it that those who really want to help will go to the group page to see what you need.
It’s ok to say no or make another suggestion. While the freezer works wonders, there is a limit to how many meals you can eat. Being honest is the way to go. “I had a friend who kept asking what she could do or if she could bring food, but I had food coming out of my ears! Eventually, I told her that coming over for a visit to keep me company while I was off work was the best thing she could do.” I was on a very strict diet and when someone would ask about food, I would make it VERY specific, ie., zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, Some people took it so literally, it actually brought a little humor into the picture. I also learned amount is important. I eat a lot of vegetables, fruit, and protein. One work colleague brought over fixings for a meal one night with his young daughter and honestly what he brought for all three of us, was almost as much as I was eating in one meal myself. I never said anything, so I share that lesson with you to be specific.
Don’t feel that you need to pull out your wallet. You may feel the need to repay your friends and family for their help, but you may not be able to and that’s okay. “I tried giving people cash and it actually made us all uncomfortable.” I always made the offer upfront for them to let me know how much they needed for their expenses. If they wanted to be paid back, they naturally gave me a receipt and nothing more was said. I would recommend you take the hint and pay them. Most of the time, they’re just glad I’m ok and that’s enough for them.
It’s time to be transparent. One story that blows me away is a gift from a business networking group. I had a chair on layaway at a local store and I wanted to pick it up and definitely needed help assembling it. I told my group that I really would appreciate someone with a truck picking it up for me and helping me assemble the chair. One gentleman from the group picked up the chair. And bless his heart, it took him a couple of hours to put it together. When he was getting ready to leave, I offered him a check for the balance I knew was due for the chair and he said, no worries the group put together a collection and gifted me the chair. He also said he was available to drop by any time to help if I needed anything. I was so grateful and in the conversation said, oh that’s great where do you live, thinking he was in the neighborhood He lived over an hour away.
There’s a quote from Teddy Rosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This quote resonates with me as you it showed me in my time of need that people are there for you when they know you are being transparent and authentic.
Lots of love my friends. Reach out to me anytime. You are not alone.
All my best,
Anne McGurty resides in Scottsdale, AZ. She has been a Project Manager in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Anne worked with various industries as a productivity consultant and is a keynote speaker motivating audiences to change. Post-cancer, she researched options and zeroed in on the business of Nutrigenomics and, in
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