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Hockey Fights Cancer

Nicholle Anderson blog: Friends key to battling disease

Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador, wife of Senators goalie, offers tips on helping someone in treatment

by Nicholle Anderson / Special to

Editors' note: Nicholle Anderson, the wife of Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson, will write a blog each Wednesday in November for to help mark Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month. Anderson was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of throat cancer, last October, and on May 25 was declared cancer-free. She is serving as a Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador. Here is her second blog entry.

When I was first diagnosed, the community around me prepared me for treatment. Here are some items that helped me during radiation and chemotherapy.

1. Blanket
2. Slippers/socks
3. Books
4. Snack basket
5. Candles
6. Chemo bag
7. ChapStick
8. Pajamas
9. Movies
10. Drawing/coloring books for adults

As treatment began, I was so thankful for all the generous gifts people gave me, but the kind of support I needed shifted from material gifts to physical support. When you begin your fight, the daily battle needs YOUR PRESENCE. There is no gift you can buy that is more important than the actual support of yourself. Here are some ways to help.

1. Deliver meals. Inquire what the patient can eat. Be a coordinator. My friend, Anthony Contino, had a friend set up meals for the week. Everyone took a day each week and delivered meals. Another friend, Amber Vanryn, had someone make her smoothies since that is all she could drink. Little things like this are actually a HUGE help.

2. Show up and help. The focus becomes the patient and daily chores go unfinished. Just a simple kitchen cleanup or a load of laundry relieves the caregiver of some duties.

3. Play with the kids. Take the kids to a park or to a movie. It is important to take them away from gloom and give them a breath of fresh air. It also allows the patient to rest.

4. A simple run to the grocery store or to pick-up prescriptions.

5. Drive patients to and from appointments. The support of just being there emotionally helps the patient.

6. Pack a hospital bag for them. It is always good to have a bag on hand in case there is an emergency.

7. Don't wait until a patient calls you back or responds to a text, just take the initiative and do it.

8. Be an advocate for a patient. Make sure when patients have tests and hospital stays to remind them to collect the records.

9. Make those phone calls for patients to insurance companies confirming certain procedures are covered.

If you do not have a patient to help, there are other ways to help and give back tool

1. Volunteer at your local chemotherapy clinic.

2. Offer your services to the lodges, places funded by the American and Canadian Cancer Society that provide free housing for patients to say while in treatment. They are always looking for people to donate massages, coordinate activities for patients, or simply have a social outing.

3. Put the healthcare workers on your holiday shopping list. After I was admitted to the hospital, Craig and I were truly blessed that workers give up their holidays with their own families to care for patients. Deliver donuts, bagels, or coffee on holidays to hospital floors or the emergency rooms. Being on the other side made us appreciate the healthcare workers that much more.

4. Send a card or note to a patient. Those daily positive messages help with the mental side.

5. Or just donate through

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