how to accept support when you have cancer

It took a while – 3 years, to be exact – but Barbara finally learned to accept help from others. 

Who was her teacher?


Now, I’m the first to say that having cancer is just crap. It sucks. (To put it mildly.) Period.

AND…having cancer also forces you to grow in ways you could’ve never imagined.

You see, Barbara was diagnosed 6 years ago with cervical cancer. 

She’s doing fine now, thanks to a second opinion from Alex and our team at CTOAM! 

But back then – before she reached out to us – things were not going well

She was still only using standard care at that time, which meant chemo. 

On her best days, she felt a bit weak and fatigued…and on her worst days it was a struggle to get out of bed

Many people wanted to help…

Her sweet neighbours offered to bring her food. Close friends asked what she could do to help. Barbara’s sister, who lived in another province, suggested she visit each month – despite the pricey flight costs.

And to all of these things, Barbara had a similar answer: 

“No, no – don’t worry.”

“I’m fine, really! Please don’t bother.”

“That’s very generous…but it’s okay.”

Barabra was used to being very independent.

She’d moved across the country with her husband and new child…bucked family traditions with her career choice to become a business owner…and was always trying out a new outdoor sport or two (her kayaking and rock climbing pics are impressive!)

And she was used to being the ‘helper’. Whenever her little one’s school needed a volunteer, she was there. If her friend needed help fixing something in their home, she’d step in and help patch the eavestroughs. 

Yes, indeed, Barbara was a do-er!

But guess what? 

During her cancer, Barbara was still a do-er…just in a different way

The do-ing she needed at that time was to accept support from others

This can be much tougher than it sounds. 

One small step at a time…

She spent the first few years during her treatment feeling guilty when her friends brought food…saying no to having company at her next appointment (when she deep-down wanted to say yes)…struggling to accept the support she needed and deserved.  

Was there a lightbulb moment? No.

Just the slow toll of surrendering to the reality of what was…and realizing that it was simply going to have to be okay to let support in with open arms. 

She forgave herself for not being able to be the ‘helper’ at this point in her life. She remembered how grateful she was for the many friends who were sincerely wanting to be there.

And she started to simply say “yes, thank you” whenever someone offered to help.

Ahhh…big sigh of relief.

Surrendering to what you need is courageous.

how to accept support when you have cancer

I want you to always remember that learning to accept support is…

🔅a sign of strength and deep courage
🔅sometimes vital to recovery
🔅very healthy and shows interdepedence
🔅save you precious emotional energy
🔅not a sign of weakness
🔅helps to reduce stress

And in case you’d like to practice this more, I want to share with you these simple tips:

7 ways to accept support when you have cancer ❤️

🔹 Say “yes”
When someone offers to do a task or errand for you, start saying yes – IF it feels useful! 💡

🔹 Be clear about what would be helpful
Think about what you actually want and need. If you don’t know, that’s okay too; just be transparent. This is about YOU getting the support you genuinely want. Honest communication is key.

🔹 Make a list of ways people can help
This might include walking the dog, babysitting, visiting, not visiting, cooking for your partner, taking you to an appointment, and so on…Then share it with anyone who offers to help, so they can pick what suits them best.

🔹 Say “no” if something isn’t helpful
Would another casserole in the freezer be one too many? Then say so and suggest an alternative.

🔹 Venting counts!
It’s 100% okay to tell someone that you just want them to listen while you talk and vent. And be choosy about who you talk to…not everyone has the capacity to listen in a helpful, compassionate way.

🔹 Reach out for professional support
It might also be worth considering hiring some extra help, if you can: cleaners, gardeners, caregivers, counsellors, and so on. Other folks might be able to help on a volunteer basis, too. Just ask…you might be surprised at the generosity you’ll find.

🔹 Find support groups
There are so many support networks, as you probably already know. Many of them are online, so you can stay at home and still feel connected.

Two women in the kitchen cooking.

Alright, those are my tips for you today…

I would love to hear from you: What do you think of these suggestions?

Taking care of your emotional and mental well-being is so important when you’re dealing with cancer.

There is no wrong way to feel, do, or be. You are doing the best you can and that is enough.

Reach out anytime to speak with me about counselling or how to feel more confident in your cancer treatment plan. 

We are here for you.

Published by on January 20, 2021