One of the first things a friend or family member will often say upon learning that you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor is, “What can I do to help?” You may be tempted to answer, “Oh, nothing right now. We’re doing fine.”
While it is understandable to feel uneasy about someone else helping you with day-to-day tasks, consider the benefit of having those extra hands around the house while you are going through treatment or recovering from surgery. Letting others help also reminds those in your support network that they are a valued are part of your life and doing something to ease your concerns.
Figure Out What You Need and Ask For It
Tell a friend who asks to help that he or she can assist by watching your children while you are at a doctor’s appointment. Suggest that another friend pitch in with dog walking, food shopping, yard work or snow shoveling – things you may not be quite up to right now. Or if you just need a pal to go to dinner and talk, don’t be afraid to ask for that, too. Remember, most people want to feel as if they are being helpful and are just waiting for you to ask.
Identify Several People Who Can Help
Don’t lean too much on one person if you can avoid it. Instead, ask for help from several different people. Play to their strengths: if a friend is organized and methodical, they may be the best choice to help you with organizing your bills and insurance claims. If another has recently retired and has time on their hands, she may be the perfect person to ask to drive you to a doctor’s appointment.
Bring a Family Member or Friend to Appointments
Often, especially at the beginning, you will feel overwhelmed and may not be able to pay careful attention to all the nuances of your doctor’s words. They can help remember details or questions that you forgot, or reassure you later if you misinterpreted what the doctor said., and can be a great source of emotional support.
Try to Encourage Loved Ones to Talk About How They Are Feeling
You are more than your brain tumor diagnosis. You are still the same mother, father, sister, brother, friend, co-worker that you have always been, so keep the dialogue going. This gives your friend or family member permission to voice his or her own worries and fears openly.
Keep Life As Normal As Possible
Children benefit from routine and adults often find it offers them an anchor for day-to-day living. As much as you can, encourage your family to go about their life – getting together with friends, exercising, attending sports events or movies – without feeling guilty. Join them when you can to take a little “vacation” from your diagnosis.
Appoint a Surrogate
It is not an admission of defeat to appoint a legal surrogate, a healthcare proxy or a power of attorney of health care who can make decisions about your health care if you are unable to. In fact it is an important part of health care planning and decision-making so you can ensure your wants and needs are followed if there comes a time you cannot do it for yourself. It is simply a precaution, like having insurance and a will, and you never know when it can come in handy.