Hi Sasha, I've got an awesome sister-in-law: fun, funny, lovely, generous to a fault, a great mom to her two kids, fantastic cook, loyal as can be, just GREAT. Ok, so my great sister-in-law has cancer. And she got diagnosed a month after her husband had his own cancer treated. A total sh-t sandwich. But she has ridden it like a pro, it seems to all: she is still volunteering at hockey for the kids, making all the lunches, shopping, cooking, working her butt off. She claims that she wants to maintain normalcy. I get that, but her normal is crazier than most people's crazy. So my question is, what can I do? I suggested a grocery service, which she sounded keen on, but don't think she'll do it. I made food, but she knows more than I what her kids will eat, and I don't want to just throw a wrench in the works. I want to do something to ease the crazy. Every gesture seems to require a lot of scheduling and I don't want to make things more busy. I live 2 hours from her, so while I'd love to go babysit the kids, my own kids need me as well as my partner is away during the week (another issue :) It's compounded by the fact that her local friends seem like total dummies: they constantly drop their kids off at her house while they go all over town, and of course my S.I.L takes in all and sundry because she'd never say no. She's a saint and those people are impossible to help!!!  What can I do? L

I hate cancer.  I hate that there is still no cure, I hate how damn scary it is, and I hate that I know so many people who have it.  That said though, more and more people are starting to beat it and your sister-in-law seems like she’s got the fighting spirit.  Fingers crossed she massacres the sh-t out of it.  

By the sounds of it she’s the type of person who thrives off of keeping busy.  She obviously enjoys operating at that frequency and right now, keeping that pace may be what’s getting her through her treatment both mentally and physically.  

The thing here is that when someone is sick they don’t want to be constantly reminded of it.  They certainly don’t want to be treated like they are “sick”, especially if the chemo hasn’t had its way with them yet.  So, if I were you I wouldn’t try to mess around with her schedule too much.  That said though, if you do want to do something for her it could be a nice idea to pick up her kids and take them to your house one night for a sleepover.  Book her a mini spa day and let her enjoy some solo quality time.  I mean, I don’t know a single human being who would ever say no to that.    

L, I think it’s great that you want to lend your support, and the fact that you’re even just thinking about your sister-in-law is probably super appreciated by her. Keep doing that.  My only word of caution is just to make sure you strike a balance.  You want to be there, but not so much that it becomes annoying.  I find a lot of people overcompensate because it makes THEM feel better.  You know?  L, you don’t sound like that kind of person, but just in case I thought I would mention it.

Thanks for writing in and I’m wishing you and your family lots of health! xx