The following is a post from contributing writer, Roan, of Joyful Always.
A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was completely blindsided, because I considered myself the picture of health. I had recently finished running my second marathon, and I was almost through with the 63 day Insanity workout program. For several weeks, while I attended numerous doctor appointments, underwent several tests, biopsies and procedures, and ultimately had a double mastectomy, my family and friends provided me with invaluable help, support, and compassion.
As a homeschooling mother of five, the anxiety of my physical health coupled with the feeling of “getting behind” in my housework and in my homeschool could have easily overwhelmed me. I had faith that God’s will would be done in my life, so I countered my anxiety with thanksgiving for my blessings and praying for other people in need. But the reality was that while I worked so hard to not be overwhelmed, I still needed help.
My husband and closest friends and family members were the best support that I could ever ask for. They did things for me that I did not even realize needed to be done. I felt loved and taken care of, and I want to share with you some of the acts of compassion that were done for me. Maybe you know a homeschool mom who is undergoing a health crisis and you are wondering what you can do to help. Here are some ideas.
Pray for your friend’s health, for the doctors and nurses taking care of her, for her husband and children, and for her peace of mind.
Take her a meal
One of my friends collected the email addresses of many of my friends–people from our church, my homeschooling friends, fellow running club moms, and the wives of my husband’s practice partners. She used the online meal organizer called Take Them A Meal, which easily and efficiently schedules meals for the person in need.
The meal coordinator asked me how frequently I needed meals and for how long, and she set up the meal plan to reflect my needs. I chose for meals to be delivered 3 times a week for 6 weeks following my mastectomy. Even before that surgery, friends still brought food. I cannot tell you what a blessing this was! Even if your sick friend does not have something like this set up, you can still take her a meal.
Keep her children
I had numerous doctor appointments, and one outpatient surgery before my mastectomy. Sometimes I left my children at home alone (I have three teenagers), but often they needed a distraction too. And of course they had to stay with someone while I was in the hospital.
Take her children to their activities or lessons
This was a huge help too. My friends would pick up my children for art and piano lessons, cross country practice, and even church services. If your friend is too sick to get out or drive, it is such a blessing for her children to still be able to keep their routines.
Attend doctor’s appointments with her
My husband was able to attend every appointment that I had, but I also appreciated my best friend being there too. She wrote down important things and asked questions that I did not think to ask. She also reminded me later what the doctor said when I could not remember. If my husband had been unavailable for one or more of my appointments, having my friend there for moral support would have been invaluable.
Listen to her
I needed to talk to someone. A lot. I needed to express my fears and concerns openly and honestly. I didn’t necessarily need answers, I just needed someone to listen.
Clean her house
My sister-in-law spent the day before one of my surgeries cleaning my house. What a labor of love! More than one of my friends did laundry or folded clean clothes when they visited me. My mother stayed for a week after my mastectomy, and she did housework, laundry, and took care of my children the entire time. Straightening and cleaning your sick friend’s house or doing her laundry will be so appreciated.
Run errands for her
Return library books. Buy groceries. Pick up the dry cleaning. Go to the bank or post office. If your friend is unable to drive or get out for a period of time, offer to run errands for her.
Send her a card, email, or text
Sometimes a word of encouragement can make all the difference in the world to someone who is sick, worried, or anxious about an upcoming procedure. It only takes a few seconds to send a text that says that you are thinking of or praying for your friend. A card or email takes a little longer, but you will be blessing your friend more than you know.
If your friend is up to visitors, visiting is a great way to pass the time if she is on bed rest or recovering from a surgery or treatment.
Support her homeschool
Depending on the nature and length of your friend’s illness, she may or may not be able to continue with her normal homeschooling routine. Encourage her to take a break from homeschooling when necessary, and help her brainstorm ways to have her children continue their work independently, if appropriate.
You can even help her out by checking some of her children’s schoolwork, helping a child with a particular subject, or listening to a child read. In my case, I just declared a six week “Spring Break”. When I was feeling better and had regained my strength, I resumed our homeschool, and we continued schooling until the end of June.
I learned many lessons of compassion last year. One of the blessings of my cancer was learning what to do for others in need.
Roan is now fully recovered and is enjoying her 12th year of homeschooling. She blogs regularly at her personal blog, Joyful Always, writing about topics that include homeschooling, homemaking, marathon training, and her family life in general.
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