Definitely one of my favourite Beatles song and a line I rarely use. I come from a long lineage of strong independent women who rarely ask for help. My Mom and Grandmas were examples of how when the going gets tough, the tough just keeps going. In the last year, as it got tougher and tougher, I was very fortunate. I didn’t even have to ask. Help came in so many ways, some were needed and others not quite but the thought helped keep my spirits up.
That said, when my cousin reached out to me last week as her friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and was going to start chemotherapy, she wanted to know how she could help. Which brings me to this post as I reflected on how it’s hard to ask for help especially when you have no idea what help you need. So as an experienced chemo warrior, I thought I’d come up with a list for anyone wondering how to help:-
- Cooking, I really appreciated that I didn’t need to think about what to eat. I mean I didn’t feel like eating most of the time and it was so helpful to have a little something and someone prodding me every couple of hours to eat. I had a friend who who cut fruits and delivered them to me! Just check in with them on their diet restrictions, if any.
- Cleaning, I had no energy at all so any help with chores around the house would be helpful. I’m usually quite an OCD but when I was feeling so weak, I was just so grateful that chores were getting done, it really didn’t matter it wasn’t done in my way.
- Driving to and from doctor’s appointments and treatments. As I come to the end of my treatment and am driving myself again, it was really lovely to just get in the car and not have to deal with traffic.
- I had a few friends who bought me gift certificates from supermarkets, specialty grocery stores and such. That was super helpful! With so many expenses, it was really one less thing to worry about. One of my cousins even bought me groceries a couple of times.
- Checking in without expecting a response. I wasn’t always in the right frame of mind to reply but it gave me the warm and fuzzies to wake up to messages from friends and family who were just thinking of me and didn’t need a response.
- Other gifts that I received which I used were comfy PJs which I wore nearly exclusively, beanies to keep my bald head warm and fuzzy socks as the chemo clinic gets quite cold.
As the memory of feeling so weak starts to fade and become more of a shadow, I want to remember as well supported as I was, I need to learn to ask for help. I really can’t do it on my own and asking for help isn’t about weakness, it’s about vulnerability. And only with vulnerability can you make authentic connections. I’m still working through this life lesson. Going through chemo treatment seems like the catalyst for this revelation. As I know I’ve grown closer to people whom I’ve shared this vulnerability with.