• How do I Ask for Help

    Asked by Catouheart on Monday, April 15, 2013

    How do I Ask for Help

    I am very independent and have a difficult time asking for help. My problem is that I live alone and have very few family/close friends. My circle of work friends/casual acquaintances is quite large. How do I ask for help??And maybe more important - what will I need help with??? I am having bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction (expanders) surgery next week and the more I think about it the more I panic. Also, I live paycheck to paycheck and as long as I am out of work, there will be no income but the monthly bills will still be coming in. Right now I am not even sure who will be taking me to hospital day of surgery - my brother is seeing if he can rearrange his schedule. It is scary to feel so alone.....

    8 Answers from the Community

    8 answers
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      If I were you, I'd be open (but not TMI) about your upcoming surgery at work. Do your work friends/circle know about your diagnosis? If they do, often times, people will approach you and ask how they can help. When this happens, BE SPECIFIC. I think a lot of times, people say that, but don't really mean it and we don't answer them, so soon the moment is gone. But you need help! IF you are specific with them (ie, "You know, I really could use a ride to the hospital the morning of the surgery...I'd love a casserole that I could reheat...etc.), then I'd think their response would be positive. I think your specific request for help would seem so small that they'd be willing to help you out.

      It's good you are thinking about this ahead of time, but I would act promptly. You WILL be somewhat dependent on someone after the surgery for a while. Maybe the hospital or oncology social worker would have some suggestions. I had my bilat in August and I was GLAD to have support of family and friends because it took a while until I felt like myself again. I think you'll be happier if you can arrange for someone to stick around w/you at least a few days after your surgery. Good luck, I'll be thinking of you.

      about 4 years ago
    • KFH's Avatar

      People do like to help, but your acquaintances may think you have enough close friends who have stepped up. I, too, have few family close by, but friends from church, a former boss, etc. all offered to help. I was selective about who went with me, but took a different person with me to each chemo appt. It was a wonderful oppty to reconnect with people from my past, and a great way to get to know people who were somewhat new acquaintances. I agree with Ydnar2xer, be specific in what you ask for. Some people I knew I did not want with me for 3 -4 hours at chemo, but I asked if they would make a meal. You may want to ask someone to research & contact organizations who can help with financial needs while you are off work. They are out there, but often it takes time to find the orgs who can help. I found the best part of a cancer diagnosis are the people who help and are there for you. Good luck.

      about 4 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      talk with the social worker at the hospital, call American Cancer society. Even call other hospital that have cancer centers near you and ask about their programs. Make a list of needs that you have like transportation, meals, shopping etc. You will then be prepared to discuss with each agency. Ask your church or even if you don't have one call the closest ones and ask anyway.

      See there are other people just like you out there and they need a freind too. Call the Komen foundation and other BC organizations to see what help they can provide. Call you County health departments and see what they provide. A little bit here a little bit there and you start putting the information together.

      All the best, don't worry you will be o.k. It will all work out.

      about 4 years ago
    • Sunnydays' Avatar
      Sunnydays (Best Answer!)

      My heart goes out to you, you'll definately need help. Here's an idea. Ask your 2-3 closest friends at work if they would be willing to be your "inner circle planning team". Then when you need something - ride to the hospital, visits in the hospital, ride home, help when you get home, meals, rides back to appointments, etc. your "inner circle" friends could ask others to sign up or offer to help with other things. It might be easier for them to ask around the office for help. Sometimes it is awkward for us to ask for help for ourselves, but others may enjoy helping to coordinate others to help you - and relieve you from having to do it yourself. I needed so much help after surgery - couldn't dress or bath myself, prepare meals, wash dishes, fold laundry, open or close the car door, manage my pain meds., nothing! I'm so glad for the family and friends who helped me. Like others said, some people will really help out if they know what is needed - have a sign up sheet for meals, maybe another sign up for visits to keep you company and help out in your home with anything you need (taking out the garbage, etc). My prayers are with you! That surgery is very involved (I had it last January) can't imagine being alone afterward. I couldn't get in bed alone - or out of bed! Expansion is a long, slow process, at times uncomfortable. Creating a group of support now will help so much!

      about 4 years ago
    • anskysue's Avatar

      People will be more willing to help than you realize. Some of the ways we have received help.

      1. American Cancer Society. They have SO many resources. If you have a local chapter, go down there and meet with them. They can tell you what they have in your area.
      2. Set up a MealTrain at mealtrain.com. You can have your work group send out a link and people can sign up to bring you meals. This has been a real life saver for us. Hint - do not include all seven days when you sign up - do maybe 3-4 days a week. People will bring so much food that we ended up with way too much at the beginning.
      3. Set up a facebook account, caringbridge site, or blog so people can follow along in your journey. You can post as much or as little as you want. I set up a facebook page and am pretty open with just about everything. It gives me a place to vent when feeling bad and it helps field the calls when people want to know what's going on and I'm just not up for talking. This also gives you a platform if you need something. People want to help and sometimes they just don't know what to do.
      4. You didn't mention health insurance or not however I just found out that even though I have health insurance, my cancer center will give me a self pay discount on items that my insurance doesn't cover. Wish I had known to ask about this about this months ago.

      Best of luck - I will pray for you!

      about 4 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Catouheart,

      Hi. I'm Aliza, a BC patient, and the site's resident unofficial Medical Librarian. Med Librarian's offer advice (usually non medical), refer people to doctors, hospitals/institutions, agencies, etc. and research when required/requested.

      As a Librarian, I'm trained to look at questions in a different way than average folks so I'm wondering if you've contacted your branch of The American Cancer Society? They have volunteers that are often very willing to help drive patients to and from appointments.

      I would speak with the social worker at your treating hospital to find out what benefits your insurance entitles you to perhaps in terms of home health care, i.e., aides, housekeeping health. Also, I don't know if you are a member of a Union, but if you are you may be entitled to go on Union disability, which is nowhere near your what paycheck is (in whatever field in which you work) but it's something (I know about this, I was an Officer on the Executive Board of my Union local). You can also ask the hospital social worker if they have volunteers to take patients to and from appointments-often hospitals do that.

      I'm also wondering if you belong to a religious community? If so, now's the time to contact your clergyperson. Oftentimes, they have access to the charitable organizations for each of their religions - for example, Catholic Charities, The Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services (I know the Jewish Board is very good at reimbursing or covering medical expenses that you cannot) and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. You can contact these orgs on your own as well. Also, your clergyperson usually has a small discretionary fund that that can be tapped to help a congregant or needy person of her/his faith with emergency expenses. You can't ask, can you use the discretionary fund Fr, Pastor or Rabbi (as the case may be), but you can ask if there are fund available within the congregation to help with xyz expense (don't shoot for the stars-name something concrete and onetime).

      There are organizations that can help pay for your meds if you cannot afford them. Contact www.needymedsdotorg. Sorry for the weird format for the URL. This system will remove it if I don't post it like that.

      You may also want to click the purple box at the right which lists additional resources that you may find helpful-The ACS tel # is listed as well.

      Work is a tricky thing because of office politics. It's unfortunate but true. I don't know what your workplace is like. I've worked in places that were very homey with warm, caring, friendly people and I've worked in places that were very competitive, with not so friendly people. It may be great to have all these concerned folks doing things for you and it may be that people at work could do nice things for you under the guise of false kindness while pursuing their own interests, i.e., your job. Like I said, I have no way of knowing. Just food for thought for you...You're the best person to discern this.

      If you have a microwave at home, that's a godsend! If I were in your situation, I'd stock up on a bunch of microwaveable meals that you like that are relatively healthy (Lean Cuisine, South Beach Diet, etc) where you after a day or so would be able to slip a meal in and zap it without needing so much help. In any event, I'd stock your fridge before your surgery with easy to prep things-not the ingredients for Beef Wellington right now. If there's room in your freezer, make a macaroni and cheese casserole ahead of time, bake it, cut it in squares, put each square into a separate Tupperware or other container or piece of foil, and when you want it, remove it defrost and heat it in the microwave (take the foil off first...;). Voila-mac and cheese!

      Another source of help might be your neighbors - you hadn't mentioned them (perhaps with good reason?). But there are no office politics to be concerned about here, and it might be another good source of kindness and company for you.

      One last very important idea for you is to contact CancerCare asap! The Social Workers at CancerCare are trained to deal with the highly specialized needs of Cancer patients and their caregivers. Speaking with them isn't like "regular therapy". They may also be able to point you in the direction of other solutions since you're in immediate need, and you have the advantage of talking with their Social Worker by telephone as you heal and in person later on abut how things are going for you.

      That's great that your brother's trying to rearrange his schedule. I hope it works out that he can take you. It's wonderful having family with you in situations like these, but as I mentioned, there are other alternatives that can be worked out if you dig a little bit

      One other thought, if you're in a college town, near a University where they have Women's Studies, I would head down there, go to the Department, and find out if they have a Women's Center that offers services to the community for their students. Or talk to the Chair of their Women's Studies Department. He/she may know several students who may be inclined towards this kind of thing. The same thing towards a Nursing School. I would recommend that if you get any outside help in - from students, to help you pay for, including neighbors or anyone you don't know very well, that you pack your valuables and store them elsewhere - with a friend, in your attic or a storage space that you can rent short term. There are many sad stories of things disappearing in situations like this-even if the person is "bonded". Put your good jewelry if you have any in a bank vault-if you don't have one, get one, it's important.

      Wishing for the best outcome possible from your surgery and healing! If there's anything more I can do for you, please feel free to ask me-either here on the site or email me privately offsite.

      Warmest wishes,

      about 4 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar

      Others here have all offered wonderful suggestions...I will not repeat these but add my positive thoughts and healing prayers for you...now is the time to open yourself up and learn to accept help from others...I have made some terrific friends I did not know I had throughout this journey and you will too...Good luck and God bless!

      about 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      If you will call the American Cancer Society as has been suggested they will start a file on you for what your needs are and search through their resources. You can also ask for a "patient navigator" to help. They also have a program to drive patients too and from treatments, where volunteers will pick you up at home, then be waiting for you when your done with treatment. Also, your church if your a member of one. Several people have said that they just asked at church for help, and every morning somebody different was waiting outside their door with a cup of coffee and a ride. You can get help, but you will have to ask, and maybe do a little leg work in filling out forms, giving information, etc.
      We wish you the best!

      about 4 years ago

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