When you are dealing with cancer, most friends and family genuinely want to help. They just don’t know how to.
When I wrote about 14 things not to say to a family coping with cancer, it had a massive response. People living with cancer told me how much they could relate to it and how they had experienced the same things. Many others without cancer said how helpful it had been and how it had made them really think about what they were saying.
One of the things that got the biggest response was when someone says ‘Let me know If I can help’. I think this is because it is one of the most common and well meaning responses but also one of the most unhelpful. It’s not practical or tangible and means the person dealing with cancer has to keep reaching out to access the offer of support.
But one thing people have asked since is: How can I help?
This is difficult as it is so individual to each person or family and will differ depending on the stage of treatment. It can also be tough just communicating your needs or situation to others.
Throughout our journey, another challenging thing has been keeping everyone else updated. When we shared Mr C’s diagnosis, when he was in hospital and when he started treatment, we received numerous messages of support, often with questions attached. It was tiring, time consuming and emotionally draining to reply to everyone, when your energy is already depleted. Obviously you know people are concerned but I ended up copying and pasting the same information a lot.
I have seen people set up Facebook pages to share news and updates but that seemed a little public and impersonal. So, when NoMoreGrapes, a new website that helps people with cancer to create their own online community, asked me to take a look I was intrigued. The site was set up by a family who had been through the same thing and who wanted to find a practical way to help.
The site is like a private social media group where you create a profile and invite friends to join you. It has three main strands:
You can create posts to share news, updates or just generally anything you want people to know. This would have been really useful when Mr C was in hospital as I could have just shared everything once and it would have notified everyone. People can leave comments directly and you can also link it to events on the calendar.
The calendar is a great idea as you could add major dates that people ask about like surgery or when treatment starts so people have access to that information if they want it. It would also be useful for people who want to help in practical ways by offering lifts to the hospital, childcare or meals. You could even directly ask by writing a post to link to a certain event.
The wishlist is a nice idea and I have heard other people mention doing something similar on Amazon. You can create a list of things that you want/need and then people know what would be useful to buy if they want to. You can only set up a wishlist on the site through the NoMoreGrapes shop, which is a bit limited at the moment. I can see they are adding things like Netflix and cinema vouchers which is a great idea and hopefully it will expand over time. It would be nice to see some more practical ideas, small treats and things for children.
A share of profits from the shop on NoMoreGrapes goes to cancer support groups Macmillan, Maggies and Penny Brohn UK so I hope it grows as it would be great for people to be able to purchase gifts while donating to these important groups.
This site makes life easier for people with cancer, while also helping others provide practical and emotional support and I wish I had known about it from the beginning of our journey. At the moment, our situation is fairly stable and we are managing a relatively normal life but I would definitely consider using it in the future, if things become more complicated again.
*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with NoMoreGrapes. All words and opinions are my own.