It’s back in my life…again. This past weekend, I learned that a dear friend of mine has been diagnosed with cancer, sorry, CANCER. That’s how the word presents itself in my mind, so I can only imagine how that word appears in hers. And it’s not one of the “famous”, oft discussed cancers that we all know people have survived with some treatment and they go on to enjoy many productive and happy years. No, it’s obscure, it’s nasty, and she is in for the fight of her life, pardon the pun. It won’t be easy, it won’t be pretty, and it will most certainly take a village to get her through it. Then there is her husband and daughter, the people that will bear the brunt of her care. We (the village) will have to help them, as they are in for the fight of their lives as well. Which brings me to today’s program on Rivers Of Faith with Donna Tyson. The topic, Caring for the Caregiver-Refreshing the Caregiver. How fortuitous.

So many wonderful and honest guests contributed to the show, giving their insight, guidance, support and anecdotes on how to get through this difficult time. They not only spoke of the difficulties, but of their gratitude for the gift of time with their “patients” and the situation that was presented to them. Gratitude, interesting thought given the situation. Their faith supported them at a time when they needed it the most, and instead of questioning God (as many of us do when something horrible happens to someone dear to us), their belief became stronger. And with this strong faith and belief, came a clear path on how to care for their loved ones, and how to survive it.

The "village" of helping hands

My eyes were opened on what I will be able to do, not only for my friend who’s about to embark on this horrific journey, but on little things I can do to help her family get through it all. And I feel compelled to help-no, actually, I FEEL HELPLESS, so offering my help is the only thing I can do since I can’t “make it all go away” for her. After all, when I go home to my healthy family (knock on wood), I don’t have to deal with the situation until the next time I choose to.

So please, whether you are currently a caregiver, about to be one, a friend or family member, heck, anyone on this planet, you must listen to this show. It’s all great information for being a compassionate neighbor or friend, but it can be a lifeline for those dealing with long-term care. Here are some of the things I WILL do:

Make it clear I want to help. I am going to program my cell number into their phones (they should be there anyway, but I will make sure) and insist they call when they need anything.

When I’m getting ready to run errands, I will be calling before I leave to see if they need anything from the stores I’m going to. It will feel less like an imposition to them if I convey “I’m already going, so please let me pick it up”.

For me, since it’s a neighbor, my husband is going to offer to handle the yardwork for the duration. Or, if the caregiver would prefer to do the yardwork for some outside time, I will offer to sit with my friend while her hubby is outside. This way he is truly getting a break by not worrying about her while he is outside. He does love his yard!

I plan on offering to take her to chemo once in awhile. I know at first they won’t let me, but eventually they may. And as for radiation, which will come after chemo, I will insist on taking her on occassion so hubby can take a break, run some errands, or just sit or sleep.

Meals are tricky as you never know what dietary needs must be met, how they’re feeling, what they can “keep down” or are those dreaded “triggers”. But how about some flowers and home-made baked treats? They are always welcomed, and needed, but maybe 2 days after chemo.

I plan on giving them movie theatre gift cards and offer to stay with my friend if she’s not up to it, but maybe hubby and daughter can go for a break. I’ll bring a funny movie or find a channel with a comedy show airing. SNL is always a good one, and geez, it’s always on!

I know she loves flavored coffee and tea. I’m going to get some different flavors and show up and make a pot and enjoy them with her. I don’t particularly care for them, but that’s not the point, is it?

Donna Tyson

The options are many, as you can see. Listen to the show, take away from it what works for you, your time allotment, your situation. Personally, I think everyone should listen.  We all know someone who may need a little help.

So, thank you Donna, for bringing this information to light at a time when I needed it most, and I suspect, others do too. I feel better with a “call to action”, as they say.

Rivers Of Faith with host Donna Tyson airs every Tuesday, 11am-12pm EST.