Taking Care of Yourself
  • Effects of Caregiving
  • Emotional Support
  • Diet & Exercise
  • Asking & Accepting Help
  • Additional Support
  • Friends & Family
Asking for & accepting help

When your young spouse has cancer, you must deal with an enormously stressful disruption to your normal, everyday routine. Caregiving usually feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and must do everything all by yourself. And in addition to caregiving, you may be parenting small children, working full- or part-time, and having other responsibilities.

It is vital that you ask for and accept help. Accepting help does not diminish how important you are or how central your role is in your spouse’s fight against cancer. Accepting appropriate help will only ensure that both you and your spouse get the support and care needed to get through cancer.

When friends and family ask what they can do to help, it is okay to tell them what you need so they know how to help you. That isn’t always easy. Most of the time, you will not be able to think of anything when someone makes the offer. Keep a running list of things you need, so when someone asks, you can tell them what you need. YoungCancerSpouses has provided a sample list of chores and groceries: (Download the list.)

  • Mow the lawn once a week.
  • Pick up the kids while you and your spouse go to a doctor’s appointment.
  • Pick up some groceries that are always needed, such as milk, bread, rice, cereal, juice, detergent, canned soup, diapers, etc.
  • Help cook and freeze healthy meals a couple of times a month.
  • Bring already-prepared meals.
  • Help with cleaning the house and laundry.

People may also ask if there is something they can pay for. At first you may feel a bit strange about suggesting certain things, but do your best to get over the awkwardness – most people do genuinely want to help. You might want to suggest gift cards to the gas station, grocery store, drug store, local restaurant you like (for couple time) or vouchers for transportation, hospital parking, etc. You can also leave these lists with a designated family member, so when people offer to help, they can talk with that person to coordinate what you need.