Hearts, chocolates, champagne, and roses. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it seems everywhere we look we see symbols of love. And Valentine’s Day offers a fun way to celebrate the loved ones in our life, to be sure, but there’s no reason our expressions of love should be limited to one day in the middle of February. Taking the time to show how much we care can make a world of difference to everyone we love, especially to a loved one who is battling mesothelioma. In the spirit of St. Valentine, here are some fun ways to show your love and support throughout the year.
1. Send a card, call, or plan to visit on Valentine’s Day
OK, we admit it: we are suckers for this holiday. You may still have time to get a card in the mail, and if you live near your loved one, you can stop in for a visit. If time or logistics don’t permit this, simply pick up the phone and call. Mesothelioma patients can at times feel isolated and alone. It will mean the world to your loved one to know that he or she has been in your thoughts.
2. Arrange a visit from the laundry fairy, bill-paying elf, or housekeeping sprite
Make a commitment to help your loved one on a regular basis with such everyday tasks as housework, laundry, bill-paying, and insurance claims. Tasks that to you seem easy and effortless can feel overwhelming to a patient weakened from mesothelioma treatment. Just knowing that bills are being paid and the house is being kept in order will help relieve a lot of anxiety.
3. Appoint yourself entertainment czar
If you grew up thinking that Julie, the activities director on the TV series The Loveboat, had the best job ever, then now is the time to release your inner event planner. Plan activities that will give your loved one something fun to look forward to. The activities will vary, of course, depending upon how energetic the patient is feeling. The activities can range from something ambitious, such as an afternoon out for tea, to something simpler, such as a picnic that can be enjoyed in the backyard or at the kitchen table. The nature of the specific activity isn’t as important as giving your loved one a fun event to anticipate that is outside of his or her ordinary routine.
4. Start a family book group
Choose a book, short story, or article for family members to read and discuss each month. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected, and the group can meet in person, via a conference call, or by Skype. If reading is too difficult for your loved one, use books on tape that are available from the library or through online resources such as audible.com.
5. Connect your loved one with other mesothelioma patients
Mesothelioma support groups teach coping skills and can be a great resource for a patient to learn more about the disease, treatment, and side effects. Arguably the greatest benefit support groups offer is the opportunity for patients undergoing similar experiences to come together for emotional support. There are many types of support groups, and studies show that those who participate in a support group have an enhanced quality of life. Help your loved one find a group that feels right, whether it’s an online chat forum or an in-person meeting. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) offers a one-to-one patient-matching support group, and the American Cancer Society offers a way to search support groups by zip code.
These are all simple ideas, easy to execute. No doubt you will come up with some great ones of your own. If you do, share them with us in the comments section below so we can then pass them along for the benefit of other mesothelioma patients and their families. Using just one of the suggestions we’ve listed here will make your loved one battling mesothelioma feel cherished . . . and it doesn’t matter if you choose to do it on Valentine’s Day or any other day.