Many of us are taught from a young age to be independent and take care of things ourselves. But when facing challenging times – and a disease like pancreatic cancer – it is important to know when help is needed and to feel comfortable asking for it.
How Can Patients Ask for Help?
“When you ask for help, you are making your well-being a priority by putting into play actions that will support you,” says Nicole Lise Feingold, MA, Director of Patient Services for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). “Asking for and accepting assistance may be challenging, but those two actions will give those who care about you opportunities to feel useful.”
By helping you, your loved ones can feel as though they are a meaningful part of your cancer journey.
You might feel that you are needy asking for assistance, especially if you’ve always been very independent. But you’re actually being generous and compassionate when you accept the support of others. They want to help.
When your family, friends or caregivers ask what they can do to help, here are a few ways they can support you:
- Organize your doctor visits and medical records
- Speak with healthcare team members on your behalf
- Research helpful resources and relevant information
- Arrange for transportation or child care
- Troubleshoot challenges by discussing them with you and your loved ones
- Find services to assist with finances and insurance
- Keep a schedule of people who want to visit you
- Assist with tasks of daily living, such as meal preparation or house cleaning
Put friends and family in their comfort zones, utilizing their strengths to support you. And consider identifying a point person who can help manage your generous helpers and their tasks.
Managing a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is difficult, but incorporating enjoyable activities into your daily routine can improve your mood and outlook. Keep a list of things you enjoy and like to do, such as a friend or loved one coming over for coffee, bringing one of your favorite treats, going to a movie or just visiting for a short period of time.
At times, your loved ones might be unsure about what you want or need. Just a brief text or call with a simple request can be all they need, such as taking your dog for a walk or help with the laundry. And it’s okay to say you need some space and quiet to process thoughts and feelings on your own.
When facing pancreatic cancer, a source you can trust for support is PanCAN’s Patient Central. Their highly trained and compassionate Associates provide free, personalized information about the disease, including support services. They can also find resources for any questions you have related to pancreatic cancer.
How Can Caregivers Ask for Help?
As a caregiver, it’s critical for you to know your limits and your support resources. Just like a patient, you are no less capable of asking for help in order to take better care of your loved one.
Here are three tips to get the assistance you need:
- Provide concrete tasks that you need help with. For example, ask family members, friends or neighbors for help with errands, caring for your loved one or household chores.
- Seek out support from friends who are willing to listen to your frustrations and offer support.
- Look for expert help from home health services, psychologists, counselors or other specialists, if needed.
It is valuable to connect with others who are also caring for patients fighting pancreatic cancer. Support groups and the Survivor & Caregiver Network are valuable resources both for emotional support and to learn how to ask for help.
You are not alone in the pancreatic cancer journey. Today can be the day that you make the simple act of asking for help a source of enduring strength.