It has been two months since my son, Jeff, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and through this journey, he is teaching me how to care for him and others. Here is a second lesson* that I’ve learned from him.
Right from the start, Jeff told us how we could care for him and Jeri, his wife. First, he said, “No Food” because he was eliminating processed sugar from his diet and Jeri, his wife, also has specific dietary needs. That request took the wind out of my sails because cooking (and especially baking!) is my #1 way to care for people. However, after Jeff told the world, “No Food!” Jeri called me and asked me to make them some soup. So, I researched and prepared several recipes that they both would welcome and meet their dietary needs. (Here’s an example of a yummy Whole 30 potato soup and a “sweet treat” date energy balls recipe that I prepared.) What a blessing her request was to me!
Also, we learned yet again from Jeff when he told his friends, employees, and family what he needed. He said, “Send me one of your favorite songs –just the title and the artist. I need 200 songs to energize me as I bike.” (Jeff normally bikes approximately 5,000 miles a year. For safety reasons his biking is now on a stationary bike in his home.) Immediately I sent him one of my favorite “pick-me-up” songs: “You Raise Me Up,” sung by Josh Groban. Jeff replied that he needed “peppy” songs to keep his legs and heart beating aerobically. (Hmm. . .I guess what is “peppy” differs according to one’s age.) Anyway, the important lesson is that Jeff tells us what he needs. (If you want to send Jeff a peppy song, go to his post, One Day at a Time, where you’ll see a button that says, “Suggest a Workout Song.” )
Thank you, Jeff, for teaching us how to care for you.
What I have learned in our ministry is that we can encourage someone who is suffering to “tell people what you need.” Friends and family often want to help but don’t know how. If you let them know specific ways they can care for you, you will be doing them, as well as yourself, a favor.
*If you are curious what Jeff’s first caregiving lesson is, read, My First 30 Days on a Cancer Journey.