(post by Maritza)
There is a wonderful book entitled "Childhood Leukemia" which really is a guide for families, friends and caregivers to read. It has some great tips for families and friends who are supporting a family who is fighting leukemia. I thought I would pass on some of the tips for us all as we learn to support the family.
1. Do not say, "Let us know if there is anything we can do." It is far better to make a specific suggestion instead of asking for directions from tired parents. Suggestions could be, "I have time to drive out to the hospital today. Can I bring anything you need from the house or anything your child is craving?"
2. Do not do or say things that require the parent to support you.
3. Do not talk continually about the cancer.
4. Do not ask "what if" questions. The present is really all the parents can deal with.
5. Stories of children you know who have survived leukemia and are doing fine are welcome. Stories of those who have died or who have long term side effects should not be shared.
6. If you are local, you can also stay in touch with those who would coordinate meal/errand/chore support for when the Nakatanis return home. (However, they have only been home as a family for less than 10 days total since Thanksgiving, so this is not in full swing at this point.)
Also, for those who can't help with day-to-day activities, but really really want to help, these are things that you can do for Natalie. This is what Natalie's main treating doctor asked to pass on to people who would like to help in some way. Most of you are already helping so much, so this may not apply to you:
1. Donate blood. Even if you are not a match for Natalie, you can still say that the blood is to be credited to Natalie N______ (give her full name) at UCSF. They will actually credit Natalie's medical bill. The blood banks are really low and the blood that you donate can save a child's life. You can donate blood anywhere, not just at UCSF.
2. Donate platelets. Unlike donating blood, you can actually donate platelets every two weeks.
3. If you want to take an extra big step, get your blood type tested to be included in the registry for bone marrow transplant donors.