Going from Help-LESS to Help-FUL in the Fight Against Cancer


Knowing someone with cancer can trigger a wide range of emotions, ranging from initial denial to feelings of helplessness and frustration. Many people also experience intense anger, often fueled by an inescapable reality that, unless you’re an oncologist or a medical scientist working on innovative cancer treatments or even a cure, cancer figuratively has your hands tied behind your back.

That is, if you let it! If we all succumb to the idea that we are helpless in the fight against cancer, cancer has already won. We all have gifts to contribute, and each one of those gifts can be another tool that loosens cancer’s grip on its victims. Look at your strengths and marry them to strategies that can help bring cancer down.

Health and medical strategies

You may not be cut out to be a doctor or medical researcher, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find health and medicine avenues that lead to ways to fight cancer. You can look for relevant clinical trials being held in your area, for one. While most cancer clinical trials are for existing cancer patients, you may be eligible if you are a cancer survivor, or if a prophylactic vaccine trial becomes available. Your blood donations could also help a cancer patient who is undergoing treatment – and you may be able to dedicate your donation to someone special in your life.

If you want to be more immersed in medicine, you can start the path to a nursing degree. If that isn’t in the cards for you, other positions are easier to access, such as that of a lab assistant. You can also look into becoming a home-health or personal care aid to help patients who are homebound. Also, don’t overlook the alternative or non-traditional fields that can be applied to cancer patient care. If you already practice meditation and yoga, for example, tailor your classes to the cancer patient’s special needs. Other options include acupuncture or massage therapy, and even music therapy.

Bring your strengths in other ways

Volunteering never goes out of style because non-profit organizations always need help and almost always lack the resources to pay for enough of it. Cancer sardonically presents numerous volunteer opportunities, from organizations that house family members who have loved ones hospitalized for treatment, to meal delivery services to hospice patients and those who care for them.

In fact, you can probably come up with a number of practical services that cancer patients and their families need that healthy people don’t often think about. What about powerful laptops for the patient who can’t work in the office due to being immune-compromised, or just too ill from their treatments? Or childcare when they just don’t have the strength to chase a toddler or go to the playground? Cancer patients who are single parents can be particularly left feeling like they’re swimming upstream, especially if they don’t have a social network to help them.

Take those ideas and consider starting your own nonprofit. It takes more than simply filling out a few forms and you have to closely follow state and federal regulations, but guidance and help are available. Check out the tips and resources from the National Council for Nonprofits, and a nearby college for nonprofit leadership training.

Your new nonprofit can only fulfill its mission if people know about it, which involves marketing to get the word out. Social media platforms are a fast and easy way to spread the word. Create a Facebook business page in your nonprofit’s name and invite your current roster of friends, encouraging them to invite others. Incorporate videos to capture attention; TikTok, for example, could be a powerful way to profile some of the patients you plan to help and has a feature that encourages donations.

Organize your contacts into various email invitation lists to offer them an email marketing newsletter with planned activities, donation options, and other helpful information about how they can help. Pay special attention to your subject line, as this is what can make or break your email marketing campaigns. Create a subject line that not only catches their eye but is relevant based on how you organized your lists. For example, what is relevant to corporate CEOs is likely to be different than church groups, so organize your email lists and your subject lines accordingly.

From despair to doing

Taking concrete measures to fight cancer can transform your anger and frustration into something productive. Suddenly, you’ve gone from helping a few people that you know with a cancer diagnosis, to helping several who only know you as a stranger – a stranger that used their gifts to go from feeling helpless, to helpful.

This article has been guest written by Scott Sanders! Check out more of their writing at cancerwell.org!

To find out more about help for the person with cancer, check out our jam-packed, practical, and compassionate webinar, Cancer Care: A Collaborative Approach! This short but powerful webinar is sure to give your practice the boost it needs!

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