Learning to Ask for Help

August 6, 2014

We all have flaws. Opening with a sentence like that should warn you that I am about to admit one of mine. So, here is my admission—I can be stubborn. I am one of those spontaneous, “get it done” kind of girls. I am not necessarily bullheaded, but I am pretty independent. I like knowing that I am capable of taking care of myself. Cancer has a way of making you become less self-reliant. It has a way of making you ask for help.

“Can you help me?” That is a sentence that I really do not like to ask. When I look around at my friends they are all busy. They have jobs, families, children, school, activities, dinner, laundry and lives that are hectic and busy. My family lives out of town, and while they came as often as they could, the option to impose on people who expect you to impose was not something that was readily available.

For the first part of my treatment, I declined the help offered to me. I drove myself to my own treatments. I managed my own house. And because of my stubbornness, I would have continued to do that. Then my friends finally forced their help on me—as good friends will do.

A neighbor started picking my daughter up from school when she would pick up her child. On some days she would let her stay to play at her house, or take her to get ice cream. That simple act of not having to go back out after treatment allowed me to rest longer, avoid sitting in a carline trying not to be sick and have some time to make myself presentable to my children. I even began to ask for help in the mornings to take her to school so I could be on time for early treatment. That support, which to her seemed minor, to me, was invaluable.

Some of my friends started bringing me dinners. Their meals were more helpful than I could ever imagine. Why had I turned them down? I started realizing how wonderful it was not to cook. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and often sick. I felt horrible and food was nauseating. Having dinner for my husband and kids prepared and ready meant one less thing for me to do. That support, which to them seemed minor, to me, was a huge relief.

When a friend realized I was going to treatment alone she was appalled. She would not hear of it, and started going with me. We laughed throughout treatment—sometimes too loud. She made sure to take me to lunch immediately after because it would be the only time I could eat before I got ill. During those months, our relationship changed, and I can truly say we have been through something that created a lifelong friendship. Her support turned out to be the most rewarding gift of help I have ever received, and I gained an amazing best friend. That support, which to her seemed minor, to me, was priceless.

Family and friends want to help. Let them! They want to support you even if it is in some small way. However, what seems like small help to them will feel like huge help to you. So again I admit that I still have flaws. I still can be stubborn and would prefer to get things done myself. I still do not like to ask for help, but I have definitely learned the importance of asking for help. Cancer has taught me a valuable lesson – that the support and help of those who care for you can create some of your greatest blessings.

Cancer survivor Amy Brock was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at 38. She has gone through chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy and other procedures since 2013. Amy began writing about her experiences as a way to help others on her blog, Tata Wars. Amy holds a BS in Organizational Management, BS in Information Technology and a MPH in Human Sexuality. Her MPH background has been a beneficial resource through her cancer experience.