• Is anyone else having an issue w/family not knowing or understanding how to help with my situation?

    Asked by toughcookie on Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Is anyone else having an issue w/family not knowing or understanding how to help with my situation?

    I struggle with having to ask my family for help instead of them just going into action to help.

    16 Answers from the Community

    16 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      How on earth would they know what you need and want unless you tell them? Are they mind readers? Since cancer treatment effects everyone differently, and those you want help from most likely don't have a clue what, where, when, and how you need help, there is no way they can just spring into action. Tell them what you need and when you need it.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      You need to tell them how they can help...do you need help with running errands, grocery shopping, meals cleaning house, driving car pool, play dates for kids, going to doctor appts? Everyone is different and people will offer to help, but you need to give them direction on what you need. When I was going through Tx, we had meals made for us the week of chemo, play dates for my DD who was in grade 2 at the time....my husband was able to handle the household chores and grocery shopping....when I felt good, I did what I could....Please don't expect people to read your mind, but tell them what you need...that way you get the help that you want and need.

      over 3 years ago
    • Queen_Tatiana's Avatar

      I am the caregiver and I've learned through 8.5 years of my husband's cancer that no one knows exactly what to do or what I need unless I tell them flat out what it is I do need. My father in law has especially been a great source of support and I feel very comfortable tell him exactly what I need and/or what my husband needs at this exact time. No one knows what to day or what to do, but they do want to help so tell them what you need and let them do it. You have enough on your plate without being upset with friends and family for not reading your thoughts.

      over 3 years ago
    • SMT4's Avatar

      I know it can be hard to express to others your needs. When given a diagnosis that already renders you feeling helpless and scared the second your diagnosed, how would you think of wanting to give up more control when you feel like you have lost so much. Then having to explain to other people what you need when as a person diagnosed with cancer is daily trying to figure it out is so overwhelming.

      I know for myself asking for help is not my strong point I am a do it all make it all happen type A personality person. So it took a reoccuring diagnosis to put me into shape of asking for help.

      Maybe instead of going right out and asking for help what you could do is maybe may a list of things you need help with and point your willing helpers in that direction. Maybe until you get more comfortable with asking you could just keep a list of items you need help with on a regualar basis and have your family pick and chose.

      Also what has helped is letting my family know I am not good at asking and its a bumpy road for everyone invovled. I know from being tossed back and forth through diagnosis, surgeries, treatment, remission, diagnoiss again, treatment, it is overwhelming for all parties especially the one going through it. I think making a list will let everyone know where you stand in need of help. Also you can put a little warning like I do " I'm a patient, doesn't always mean I have lots of patiences" :o) Sometimes written communication can be just as affective just look at this site!

      My Best to you,

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I have never been able to ask. I have always gotten satisfaction in "doing for others" but have always been uncomfortable being on the receiving end. I had no choice but to be on the receiving end this time -- but I did not give in very gracefully -- I pushed myself when I shouldn't have. I have a sister who will do for me but she will say "Let me know what you need or what I can do" -- I can never bring myself to tell her. Then, there are the people who show up at your door with that casserole -- or to do a chore for you -- or just to chat -- they seemed to know what you need without being asked. However, not everyone is like that. Your family may want to help but are treading carefully -- by not asking them, you are most likely depriving them of the satisfaction of helping you in your time of need.You would want them to tell you if the roles were reversed - I say "swallow your pride" and let them know what they can do to support you on your journey. Good Luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      "Let me know if I can help," was a phrase I hated. So, I asked my parents to keep my house clean. I asked my work friends to prepare food for us, a few friends took turns sitting through chemo with me. I remember calling my sister and giving her a choice of three dates to go to treatment with me.
      Shortly after my diagnosis, I met a woman who had experienced cancer. "Make a list," she said, "so you know what you need when people ask."

      Bear in mind, many people don't really want to help. These people say, "Let me know if I can help," because it is a social convention to offer help. In reality, they have no intention of helping. Others have good Inge too s but are too engulfed in the events in their own life to help.

      over 3 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      The last sentence should be "others have good intentions. . ."

      over 3 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar

      Just ask them, Nancyjac is so right, they do not know unless you tell them what you need or need done.
      My husband was great but he never saw the dog hair, dust bunnies on the floor and his constant question is what do you want me to do! You will be surprised at how much help you will get by letting family and friends know what you need. Good luck and sorry you have joined our team!

      over 3 years ago
    • Mel's Avatar

      HI. I have always been the care taker in alot of things in my life with family friends what I love to do was not ever good with having people help me at all!. But getting cancer can't say i did any better or let anyone in. I felt same way why isn't anyone just doing what they should be, how hard is it etc... Having cancer though I've learned that unless you've gone through it people whoever they may be have no idea what your going through and feeling. So looking back I would have suggested more and try to say what I needed.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      You will have to tell them what you need. They are in shock as much as you are. People who care about you get caught in this sort of warp of wanting to help, not knowing what to do, can't figure out if they should give you time alone or be there more. So, before you build up any feelings against them, with love and kindness in your voice tell them what you need. If you don't know, tell them you don't know, but you need their support. We can't assume what others are thinking, we can't control it, we can only control ourselves. Had to learn this same lesson myself! I thought my family would coming running to help, but they sort of stayed away at times, I realized it was me telling them I didn't need them by actions and by not wanting to put anyone out! Just communicate!

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      I am blessed that my family and many friends are very supportive. Though I have encountered many people, even "good friends" who don't get it. That said, speak to your family and let them know how you are doing and specific help you might need from them i.e. "can you take me to my doctor's appointment in two weeks". or "can you call more often, I sometimes don't have the energy to do so, but talking to you helps me feel better".

      over 3 years ago
    • KimG's Avatar

      Yes! absolutely-you are not alone. My mother was still trying to tell me what to do and I'm an adult. They barged their way into taking me to the hospital when I wanted my husband to and for them to stay with their grandchild. They want to do what they want to do and to XXX with what you really need. I finally kicked them out and don't speak much to them anymore except for the occasional ecard or emai- I give up
      kimg09 All I wanted was for them to spend some time with their grandson and they couldn't even do that. Even if you tell them they don't listen and then they were all put out by having to spend the entire day at the hospital when I didn't want them to take me anyway and it was clear! kimg09

      over 3 years ago
    • ElizaM's Avatar

      I want to share my experience of my good friend/house-mate/landlady and ex-boss whom I had known for 7 years in a very supportive and loving fashion. Upon my diagnosis she became hostile, belligerent, super-critical, angry and abusive. I was staggered! Having worked in hospice for many years I had never experienced anyone having such a personality switch, but maybe that happened before I came on the scene. It never occurred to me that anyone would have such a nasty hostile response. However, when I finally told my oncologist nurse and doctor of what I was having to endure at home, they shared stories with me of how so many husbands can't deal with their wives diagnosed with breast cancer, and these relationships often end in divorce. I have come to the conclusion that those who supposedly care for us are actually wrapped up in their own ego struggles and if they can't "fix" the situation they get angry at those of us who present them with such a challenge that they can't rise to. I am sharing this because not every family member can cope with the diagnosis and be "present" for the patient in the most supportive and nurturing way. I'll bet there are others here who can attest to this description of a possible reaction. My son "rescued" me and moved me, in the midst of chemo treatment, 2 1/2 hours away from my home of 27 years, to be close to him and out of harms way. I love him for that. However, he too, can't deal with the fact that this disease could probably end my life, sooner or later. He doesn't want to hear it, and accuses me of being "negative" refusing to listen to reality the way I see it, although I have a very positive attitude towards whatever, whenever, this may bring, Two different responses - the there's my best friend who dissolved into tears and said "this isn't supposed to happen to my friends" and I ended up consoling her! LOL Hope this cheers you up a bit - we're all individuals who have our own attitude and thoughts about life and death situations, or even just plain non-lethal illnesses. During my hospice years I realized all too well how loathe folks are to talk about the ultimate demise of us all, as though denial can eradicate the truth that we all die, sooner or later. In the meantime we may become ill but, boy, what can we do but face the reality cheerfully and be as proactive as we can to maximize the quality of our lives and be as positive as we can. Namaste and good wishes to us all. We are truly blessed and need to look at the gifts that this disease can bring us, not the least of which is understanding and compassion for others.

      over 3 years ago
    • Julie99's Avatar

      I struggle to ask for help or to reach out to others. My boyfriend is the same way and he likes to think he can do everything on his own to help me, which I know is only going to burn him out. So now when I do ask for help, it is easier for me to accept it because I'm helping him as well.
      Also, I have a blog that friends and family read. I have posted suggestions on things I need and ways others can help out on the blog. This way I'm not directly asking people for help, but those that do want and can help, can use those suggestions and step up. That has been really helpful. Now I have rides for all my chemo treatments (my popsicle posse!), plus cards, texts and messages to let me know people are thinking of me, and scheduled visits on the nights my boyfriend has classes at his gym. Toss in a freezer full of cooked meals too!
      People don't like to overstep sometimes and giving specific ways to help can really be a relief for them, plus you will know you are getting exactly what you want and need in return.
      And remember to set limits where necessary as well, as some others here have mentioned. Put your needs first and draw lines when & where necessary.

      over 3 years ago
    • helliehere's Avatar

      I also have a very hard time asking my family for help. During my treatments I would ask my sister for rides and stayed with her for a short time after the surgeries. At times my house did not look great but I lived with it. I did the best I could. There are some organizations that can help with housework. I was very surprised at my sister because she was always right there for everyone else and would know what to say and offer to help with anything they needed. When I would talk about cancer she would say I was being negative. We were always extremely close so it upset me that I couldn't talk to her about this . I reached out to a cancer support group which really helped. You are not alone. Many people experience this, call it denial or fear of the future.

      over 3 years ago
    • Tania's Avatar

      Hi I am a breast cancer survior of 4 years. This is hard on everyone and sometimes people do not understand. You need to tell them what you need. I myself do not like to ask for help but sometimes you have too they will understand talk to them. They will come around. Keep me posted Hugs, from Miami, Florida (Tania)

      over 3 years ago

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