• How can long distance family best help and support someone they love who is fighting cancer?

    Asked by karenglowacki on Friday, August 12, 2011

    How can long distance family best help and support someone they love who is fighting cancer?

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • lovekitties' Avatar

      This is a tough question since there are so many variables, such as how close is the emotional relationship, what are the patient’s physical capabilities, are you looking to find medical or financial help, how does the patient feel about being helped, etc.

      If the relationship is a close one, staying in touch often can be a real morale booster. Not phone calls which ask ‘how are you doing?” but calls you might have had before the diagnosis. If the patient needs someone to share their feelings with (emotional or physical) they will bring it up.

      If the patient needs some financial help, sending a gift card which can be used any store taking the major credit cards might be appreciated. If you have a local contact of the patient’s you might arrange for a one time cleaning service. Or you might be able to arrange for a free cleaning service from some charitable organization, or someone to take them to and from appointments.

      If you are trying to help them explore treatment options and they are able to interact on the internet, this site as well as CSN are good places to introduce them to. There are lots of folks at each who are more than willing to greet with open arms someone who is traveling the cancer road, help them by relating their own experiences and over the emotional hurdles.
      Helping the patient hook up to the resources available to them locally is always good, whether it is the American Cancer Society, support groups, or charitable service groups.

      These are just a few ideas which come to mind. Helping from a distance is difficult but not impossible. Letting the patient know that they are thought of and that you want to help are key to figuring out the right things for their circumstances.

      about 9 years ago
    • seketak's Avatar

      This is an answer I could have used when my sister was going through this while in California and I was in Indiana. Not knowing the facts and not feeling comfortable always calling and asking questions ended with me not even knowing that her thyroid had cancer on it until after the fact. You feel like you are prying and bothering them when they are going through a difficult time yet the truth is my sister needed to feel supported so she did not see it that way at all. The most frustrating part I think for her was when we would ask questions that she did not have the answers to.

      about 9 years ago
    • Candy's Avatar

      Staying in touch by phone, email, skype, facebook, cards, prayers and if at all possible, brief (a week, maybe) personal visits. That's such a blessing to the patient, the partner/caregiver and of course to the visiting family member. The love received by everyone provides a good dose of encouragement. Our animal family members have also provided comfort, good distraction, humor, and just plain critter love. : )

      about 9 years ago
    • mamoladyc's Avatar

      There are lots of things a person out of town can do. My daughter is in a different state. She flew out once a month during treatment. She called all the time. She had the sitter pick up a dinner she ordered the day I had surgery. (I think you can have it delivered by the restaurant sometimes)
      My sister in law sent a chicken pie from Harry and David's. It was delicious.
      For my uncle, I sent a care package with some basics I found useful during chemo.
      There is skype, letters, cards, email.
      Probably more, but this is all I can think of at the moment.


      about 9 years ago
    • hummingbird's Avatar

      Cards and calls are always a help...if you don't feel like talking,just know they called...Cards are great because you can choose when to enjoy them. A friend of ours sent frozen food from Omaha Steaks that was great because when we had the meal it was as if they were eating with us.
      The only thing I would suggest is not to say" I wish I were there" as the patient may have the need to say..."then get here". Then you're in the hot seat!!! Just saying'...

      about 9 years ago
    • danellsar's Avatar

      Calls- Even just a quick check in and how are you doing is nice.

      Meals- Order things to be delivered. there are many "make and take" meal places like Dream Dinners that will make and even deliver. Also Scwanns and other delivery places. Not having to think about preparing the next meal is huge.

      Cleaning- Find a cleaning service that will come in and do a thorough house cleaning once a month. The burden of keeping up with all of the details makes cleaning really tough. Also, if you know people in the neighborhood or in the family member's church, you could find a local teen or college student who would come in 1-2 times a week to wash dishes or etc.

      Just knowing people care, helps.

      almost 9 years ago
    • MAGNUM1's Avatar

      I think ANY gesture that a person does, for a cancer patient,
      is beneficial. Whether it be a regular greeting card in the mail,
      arranging for local people to visit/invite to join activities, obtaining tickets to an event that the person would enjoy, have a catered meal delivered to their door!

      The bottom line: the person knows that you care about them!

      I have survived my cancer for over 7 years now. It is extremely important for the person to know that, they have people supporting them. Even if you are miles away from them.

      Distance does not matter. A REGULAR simple gesture will make all the difference in the world, in their attitude towards their medical "challenge."

      Attitude is why I am still here; I could have given up. My urologist said I would die within 2-3 years, if I chose to wait and see what happened. I am proactive in my battle; it has been 7 years now.
      Each day that passes, I BEAT CANCER THAT DAY.

      Make sure that you MAINTAIN consistent support, and not
      forget about him/her.

      The long distance support person can have a major impact,on
      the person's WILL to fight the battle. Please do so.....

      almost 9 years ago
    • judalou's Avatar

      My consistent helpers have been folks I met in art classes in community. One brings vaccumn & empties garbage for me, another drives me to appointments. Some continue to send cards of thoughts & greetings. It all helps....

      over 8 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      My sister and Aunts are in other states, it helped me to hear from them, even though there was nothing they could do for me, it was reassuring to hear from them and just talk.

      over 8 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      Now that I am am "cancer-free," I have been reflecting and focusing on the positive aspects of my cancer journey. One of the most important lessons I learned was how to be a better friend and caregiver. Prior to my experience, I reacted like many people: I'd send a card, add that person to my prayers but didn't call too often because I didn't want to bother them.

      Now I've learned that that is what answering machines are for! And if I truly didn't want to talk to a particular person, I screened calls with caller-id and would call back later or send an email, if I truly didn't want to talk to them.

      With that important lesson learned...

      I most appreciated phone calls. I became closer with many friends and family members who reached out often. I can't thank them enough for their thoughtfulness. And I wish others would know to do the same. Again, if I was resting or didn't want to talk to them, I let the answering machine pick up.

      Cards...so inexpensive, yet such a pick-me-up and something I can hold onto, read over again and treasure forever. I have all the cards I received in a box and will never throw them away. My one cousin would send me a card practically every week! I laughed and smiled when each one arrived.

      Others sent gifts (i.e. funny t-shirts, a teddy bear, flowers). I appreciated their thoughtfulness moreso than the actual gift. If someone feels that sending something is necessary, I'd suggest practical things that would help to make everyday life easier: i.e. gift card to restaurant that delivers or does take-out, pay and arrange for a visit by a house-cleaning service. I appreciated gift cards to either the grocery store or Target, simply because my older son was doing much of our shopping for us and I could just hand him a gift card (I also had a friend doing my shopping for me and instead of giving her cash, I gave her a gift card that she kept in her wallet to use for my purchases)

      If the person is wearing hats or scarves, send them a gift card to a store online. I had to wear scarves to cover my port-a-cath and my treatment lines so several friends gave me scarves which was the one gift I truly did appreciate.

      Most of all, however, is letting them know you are there for them 24/7 regardless of the distance. A phone call, a card, a note, an email or a FB post. Knowing that people were out there rooting for me kept me going.

      over 8 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar

      Thank you for your question. It reminded me of some recent content we posted on our blog site.

      The first is an article on what cancer patients want their loved ones to know about having cancer.

      The second is an article on 9 ways that loved ones can support those with cancer.

      Those 9 ways include some ways that will still work if you are supporting them long distance for example starting a website for donations, pulling founds, sending gift cards in the mail, and continuing to call and have regular contact with your loved one.

      Hope all is well,

      about 7 years ago

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