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"The Daily Routine: Making It Work" is a model of how a caring
group of family members, friends, neighbors, and others can be
organized to help maintain the daily life routine of patients and
families during treatment for cancer.
The basic elements needed to create this caring community
include a volunteer coordinator, the use of a master calendar, and,
of course, all those thoughtful, concerned, wonderful people who
have offered help during this time.
Many people are very willing to come together to help others,
and those who have used this type of system have found it is easy
to set up and workable for many types of situations and needs. This
is one general way to organize support; you may think of others.
Whatever you do, we hope you will get the help you need to meet the
daily challenges of managing and maintaining your life while you
are dealing with cancer treatment.
The coordinator meets with the patient and family to find out
specific needs and organizes the support system during treatment.
The coordinator oversees the calendar of needs and tracks which
helpers are taking on certain responsibilities. Some patients have
also used the coordinator to serve as a central communicator who
provides limited medical updates to others.
The coordinator needs to be someone who is reliable, committed
to making this system work, good at organization, and clear in how
This is a checklist of some common needs. Mark off those needs
you have, and review the specific items with your coordinator.
The document attached below is a template for identifying
possible helpers. You can fill in the information, or start with
names, and ask the coordinator to complete the sheet with you. This
sheet will help you identify both those who are offering help, and
what kind of help they can give (e.g. transportation, making
dinner, child care, etc.). You may also specify to your coordinator
whom you do not want to perform certain tasks. For example, you may
have a dear friend who is great for walking the dog or making a
dinner, but who is not a good driver for your children.
Attached below is a sample of a communication from the
coordinator that would be sent to your helpers. This letter may be
mailed or e-mailed. Some people prefer to organize by using the
phone. The coordinator is making it clear what the patient and
family need, and will help him or her learn what the individual
helpers can do (i.e., who can drive, who can cook, who can
Letter to patient's circle
The document attached here is a sample of a master calendar that
a coordinator may use to track who is doing what task and when they
are doing it. Some people use a key or different colors to identify
different categories of tasks. The coordinator writes dates for
dinners, transportation, or other assistance needed, and gives a
copy of the master calendar to the patient. This copy can also be
e-mailed as an attachment.
The coordinator will follow up with a phone call to the assigned
helper a few days ahead of the day the task (a ride to treatment,
for example) is to be completed to be sure plans are clear and
confirmed. If changes need to be made or last-minute issues arise,
the coordinator will help work these out. Other helpers on the list
may be able to step in to fill the gap.
The coordinator will let the patient know the plans for
assistance by e-mail, phone, or in person based on what is the most
effective way to communicate. This document is a sample of a
coordinator's follow-up sheet sent by e-mail.
The system, once it is in place, varies depending on patient and
family needs. The coordination may end when treatment ends, or
could continue, depending on individual situations. Coordination is
a resource that can end for a period, and then restart, if
The document attached below is a thank-you note from a patient
to her friends who coordinated support for her during
Thank you from patient to friends