As some of you already know, my stepdaughter Kate started chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at City of Hope Cancer Hospital on Tuesday of this week. She will be undergoing an intense treatment regimen for most of the next month–maybe less, possibly longer, all depending on how her cancer responds.
Kate’s visitors are being strictly limited. I haven’t seen her myself since she was admitted to the hospital, and I’m not sure when I will, but I will do what I can in the meantime to help ensure that her parents can be there for her, and for her brother Spencer too. (Let’s just say that there are numerous reasons we’ll all be claiming time off under FMLA during the next few months.)
I am confident about the medical and supportive care Kate will be receiving through all of this–at this stage, her primary caregivers are the professionals. That said, her mom and dad will be spending as much time with her as they can. And that said, acts of caregiving are not the only sources of stress when a loved one is seriously ill–sometimes they’re the pretty low on the list, compared to the fear and unknowns, the worry over all the things you can’t do for them…and the management of all the everyday stuff you have to keep doing anyway, crisis or no crisis.
People have asked what they can do to help our family during this time, and I’ve come up with a few suggestions:
- Keep in touch–via social-media check-ins, calls, texts, whatever. Due to the effects of chemo on Kate’s immune system, she will be isolated for some time…but her family needs to stay connected to the wider world. You may not know what to say, and that’s OK–maybe you can listen, or just offer some welcome distraction.
- Because sometimes it’s easier for us to respond to a specific offer than a general “let me know what I can do,” ask questions like “Can I pick something up for you?”, “Do you need a break?”, or “I can do such-and-such–would that help you?”
- One friend asked if we have set up a crowdsource fundraising site; no, we haven’t. Kate is covered under both of her parents’ health-insurance policies, and our thoughts on the financial ramifications of her illness haven’t made it past that point yet. (Having said that, I won’t stop anyone inclined to set up a fundraiser…) However, we’re encouraging donations to support the work of City of Hope.
- Many of you have already told us you’re offering prayers, positive thoughts, healing energy, good vibes–whatever you’re into–for Kate’s treatment and recovery from ALL. Please keep doing that. We believe in medical science, and what another friend called “(p)rayers for (Kate’s) strength and for science to do its job” just might give it an edge.