Seeing someone you love experiencing a horrible illness can leave you feeling helpless. However, there is always something you can do to help.
Our fundraising and events coordinator (and dedicated kindness ambassador) Cheryl (Chez) Macleod, shares her tips for supporting a friend when they are facing life-changing illness.
Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to say when someone you care about who is suffering. But in my experience, just saying “hey, if there’s anything you need, I am here for you” is a great start. It's also a genuine way to let them know you’re there for them.
Easing the financial burden of illness
When Jo was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, she mentioned needing three months off work for operations and treatment, the first thing that came to mind was ‘there’s no way I could take that amount of time off work without taking a massive hit financially’. As if the stress of having a life-threatening illness wasn’t enough already, the thought of not having a wage coming in to financially support your family through this time would also be another huge weight on your shoulders. So, I started thinking of ways I could raise money for her.
The first thing I did was to start an online crowdfunding campaign which was very easy to set up. I also initiated a wine fundraiser (we used Prospect Wines) where a portion of the sales would be profit and that would go to Jo’s family.
Side note: due to it's success, we continue to run a Defining Beauty wine fundraiser with our very own custom designed labels. For more information and to place an order, click here.
Six weeks after setting all this up, and right before Jo was going into hospital for surgery, I surprised her with a group of friends and we went over to her house and presented to her the $11,000 we had raised. This was enough to support her family while she and her husband Doug took time off work. One less thing for their family to worry about!
The power of friendship and community
When I knew Jo was struggling mentally through her recovery, I’d gather our close friends over to my place and we'd surprise her with flowers, and a fun girl’s afternoon to lift her spirits. In fact we had so much fun the first couple of times, we now make a regular habit of it. Sometimes a good laugh and some girl time is just what you need!
Even taking over meals for the days when Jo had a doctor’s appointment was a massive help. I also would put requests on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to donate $10 for some frozen meals. I couldn’t believe how many people in our online community contributed (even people who didn’t know Jo). I ended up with around $350 which enabled me to purchase about 40 meals from a local kitchen that made healthy take home meals. When she returned home from hospital there was a constant supply in the freezer and I just topped them up when required. This made things a bit easier for her and Doug while she was out of action. So even if you’re tight on cash and can’t necessarily afford to pay for this yourself, you’d be surprised at the generosity of people. You just have to ask. In my case, I reached out to my friendship circle both in person and on social media.
There’s plenty of other things you can do to help too such as offering to go grocery shopping for them, cleaning their house, even mowing their lawns.
I am a firm believer of being kind to others. These helpful gestures, whether big or small, can make a huge difference to someone during a difficult time when they need as much support as possible. We’re all in it together!
By Cheryl Macleod
Fundraising and Events Coordinator
Defining Beauty - Through Breast Cancer
If you want to chat to Chez about doing your own fundraiser or need some suggestions then please feel to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org