Childhood Cancer

Many people feel awkward and tongue-tied in the presence of families with an injured or ill child, particularly if the injury or illness is severe. Kind words are always welcome and a specific offer of help can be accepted or graciously declined. Here are a few suggestions of helpful things to say.

• “I am so sorry” (follow with a big hug).

• “Our family would like to mow the lawn, weed the flower beds, and rake the leaves. Is this weekend a good time?”

• “We want to clean your house for you once a week. What day would be convenient?”

• “Would it help if we took care of your dog (or cat, or bird)? We would love to do it.”

• “The church (or synagogue or mosque) is setting up a system to deliver meals to your house. When is the best time to drop them off?”

• “I will take care of Joanie whenever you need to take Jimmy to the hospital. Call us any time, day or night, and we will come pick her up.”

Many well-wishing friends always said, “Let me know what I can do.” I wish they had just “done,” instead of asking for direction. It took too much energy to decide, call them, and make arrangements. I wish someone would have said, “I’ll bring dinner,” or “I’ll baby-sit Sunday afternoon so you and your husband can go out to lunch together.”