Stories from a Life I Didn't Plan

Ways to Support Someone During a Serious Health Crisis

ways to support someone during a serious health crisis

Chemo Infusion Number 2

Since I began leading a very sequestered life due to chemotherapy, many of my family, friends, and neighbors have offered to help me however they can. So, I have been thinking of suggestions for ways to support someone during a serious health crisis.

As an independent, single person, sometimes I find asking for and accepting help difficult. I hate to inconvenience anyone and hesitate to ask if I think I will be imposing. And frankly, sometimes I cannot think about getting dressed, let alone what I might need. Nevertheless, I am deeply grateful to these kind folks for their offers and have taken many up on their kindness.

First, try to find out about the person’s needs and health limitations. Then, decide how you are able and willing to help . Finally, make a sincere, specific offer of assistance.

In addition to the myriad tasks my mother does for me, I have a neighbor and friends who get me groceries or other miscellany at the store; a friend who offers to go to chemo with me; a friend who brings dinner on the weeks my mom is at home and brings various items from the store; a sister who acts as my personal shopper and is not a bit bothered by becoming the annoying person in the store on her cell phone while she FaceTimes me to show me a product before making a purchase; a friend who comes over to walk with me; and another friend who calls to say, “I’m on my way to Target or Costco, can I pick up anything for you?” It is a lot less intimidating to ask someone to buy something for you when they are already at the store.

One of the casualties of health is energy. Staying on top of everyday tasks as simple as housework and meal preparation can become an unachievable goal.  If you have time and are willing, consider offering to sweep, mop, vacuum, clean the bathtub, launder clothes, or take out the trash. Maybe bringing a meal would be helpful, once you find out what dietary restrictions have to be followed. Perhaps you could take the car to get gas or offer to drive to appointments or help with chores, like banking or going to the post office. If they are in a chemo fog, or have chemo brain, they might need help organizing tasks like paying bills and keeping track of medical appointments and prescriptions.

If you are not sure what you can do, I have a few other suggestions of ways to support someone during a serious health crisis, and I encourage you to check out other websites that share creative ways to be supportive, like 20 MORE Things You Can Do When Someone You Love Has Cancer,  44 Ways to Make the Day of Someone With CancerHow to Help a Friend Going Through Treatment for Cancer, My Angry Cancer, and We Need to Stop Saying, “Let Me Know If You Need Anything” .

For me, when my friends have been specific about how they can help me, it makes it a lot easier to say, “Thanks. I would really appreciate that.” And, I do. I truly do appreciate each kind act you do for me.



  1. Mary Ann

    Michele, this is very helpful –Thanks! Next one could be what is helpful when you are a bzillion miles away :).

    • chelitacrowe

      Mary Ann, if I were to write a post about how to support someone from a bazillion miles away, I would write exactly what you and John have done to support me!

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