• My sister was just recently diagnosed with lymphoma, she hasn't started chemo yet, what can I do to help her? I'm afraid of overwhelming her

    Asked by luvmysis on Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    My sister was just recently diagnosed with lymphoma, she hasn't started chemo yet, what can I do to help her? I'm afraid of overwhelming her

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      She is the one you should be asking that question. Being overwhelmed and feeling out of control is pretty scary for a newly diagnosed cancer patient and well meaning family who "push" to help just makes that worse. She needs to decide what help she needs. Thinking back to when I was diagnosed, what would have been helpful to me is if somebody had made a list of possibilities for me and then let me choose and prioritize what I needed help with the most. That list would have included things like going to medical appointments with me, help with errands and housekeeping, cooking freezable meals (this becomes pretty important during chemo where there are times the patient just doesn't want to even be around food), babysitting if she has young kids, helping her with keeping track of things (appointments, when bills are due, etc.). "Chemo brain" is a common side effect and can make it difficult for patients to remember even things that were routine before. She probably won't know what she needs or wants from you yet, but having a list to choose from when she does will make asking and getting help so much easier.

      over 4 years ago
    • CaptainBob's Avatar

      I agree with nancyjac. Sometimes the best help is just reminding the patient that you are there for whatever is needed. My wife has been my main caregiver and has been at my side through my entire treatment. Chemo brain is very frustrating to me as I once was a very detail oriented person. She has always helps me by being the one to remember the details of our life. She also will at times just sit quietly next to me. Sometimes you just need to be there and the answer to your question will present itself as needed. Just don't "push" unless it is unavoidable to help your sister. My wife has had to be quite forceful in getting me off the couch and moving at least around the house in order to avoid loosing any more muscle tone than necessary. After all this babbeling I guess the best thing I can say is just be there and fill whatever need arises as it happens. There is not a lot of pre planning that helps since cancer has a way of being unpredictable and by that messing with any plans you may make.

      over 4 years ago
    • Blue's Avatar

      I'd suggest you shownyour concern and support but allow her to direct the conversation. Sometimes when you have several people calling and asking the same questions about your cancer, it gets old and tiresome even though you appreciate their concern. It feels good to just have a regular conversation about other realities of life around you, like politics, good movies, family stories, good books to read....

      over 4 years ago
    • Moonflay's Avatar

      Just letting her know you are there for her is the foundation you will both build on. Each of us responds differently to the trials and tribulations this disease throws at us. Having friends and family that are willing to occasionally step up to bat or simply be there to catch for us is essential. Knowing I can laugh, growl or cry about it with my sister is a what love is all about.

      over 4 years ago
    • nobrand's Avatar

      Some really great answers here so far. You know, it's a hard answer to give you, luvmysis, because it depends on your sister. Having this diagnosis in and of itself is very overwhelming, so I'd offer support when you see a need for it. Keep doing the things you have always done as a sister, and let it be known that you can do more when she needs it.

      I'd also say, if she likes Facebook and the like, show her this site. I think it's been really helpful for me in my new journey with cancer.

      over 4 years ago
    • Bashiemn's Avatar

      Some things I wish my sisters had done (or done better):

      Bring meals or groceries. I had other friends and family on ocassion drop off meals- like once a week. But my sisters never did, never brought groceries to help or anything.

      Call me each week to see if I needed rides to any appointments. Whether they could bring me or not. If I needed rides and they couldn't bring me, I wish they had offered to call around an find someone. This became a big stressor for me because I wasn't able to drive for a while and it was overwhlelming to have to call around and ask for rides. I did set up a "Care calendar" on another website, but sometimes no one signed up to give me a ride and I didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't need the extra stress.

      Continue to ask me if I needed rides or bring meals or give me some kind of help after a couple of months. When I was starting to get better, and thescan results were coming back with improvement, my sisters (and many others) stopped offering to help. I also went back to work part time, because I couldn't be at home any more. It was EXHAUSTING to work and still go through chemo, but most people didn't/don't realize that I still could have used some help. There are days when I come home from working 1/2 a day at work and I can't get up off the couch.

      Ask me how I'm doing, and LISTEN when I need to cry. Let me walk about it... My sisters both avoided the conversations because (I assume) it was too difficult for them to hear.

      My older sister calls me about once a week now and asks me how I am... and tells me she loves me. She took me to a couple of appointments in the beginning of treatment and brought her family to visit me a couple of times, but in general that is it. Luckily for me, this is more than she has been a part of my life in the last several years, so I'm thankful for that.

      My younger sister lived with me through most of my treatment. She took me to a couple of appointments in the beginning, she planted some flowers for me this spring so I didn't have to, and she offered to cook me dinner a couple of times (though she burnt what she was making and I couldn't eat it, unfortunately). She also made my life a lot more stressful and was very short with me. She stressed me out more than helped me. I love her, but it was really hard on me. She has moved out recently, and hasn't spoken to me since. She also basically gave me the cold shoulder quite often.

      Remember that your sister is going through something very hard. She will be stressed out, tired, overwhelmed, angry, depressed, fearful, scared, etc. Let her experience her emotion. Comfort her, tell her you love her, help her see the bright side of things and be optimistic (though not overly - yuck). Ask her what she wants or needs. Offer to paint her toenails, take her to her favorite restaurant if she is up for it, take her to a movie, etc. Do not, under ANY circumstances, yell at her. Talk to her about what is going on in your life too. Those of us going through this still care about our friends and family and want to know what's going on...

      Good luck!

      over 4 years ago
    • ibcword's Avatar

      No matter what or who helps out, I found having a central place for a listing of what was happening and when. We picked up a large flat desk calendar and hung it on the wall. The daily squares were large enough for multiple notes. Everything went on it, Dr appointments, meals being brought were listed with names and items brought, and also noting symptoms or side effects from treatment. If someone wanted to bring meals, we could easily state what days were needed by looking at what was already happening. I used this to track thank you notes, look back to get all my mileage for tax purposes, etc. My family enjoyed having this available too because they would know what was going on without having to ask. I also felt more in control, like I had a plan, moving forward. Especially during chemo brain moments when I would forget things. I hope this helps.

      over 4 years ago

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