By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

Asking for Help to Avoid Burnout

Ask for Help

In 2012 when my husband was first diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, neither of us was very good at asking for help. It didn’t take long before we were spread awfully thin. #1 way to avoid burnout when you are facing cancer or any other difficult circumstance in life is to ask for help—and accept it.

Asking for help is hard on your pride. Many people grow up thinking that asking help (or accepting it when it’s offered) is something you just do. So when you find yourself in a vulnerable situation, in need of assistance, it’s scary. And it can take some getting used to. Some of us have to learn the hard way and end up burning out before giving in.

Asking for help means admitting you can’t handle it all on your own.

Cancer leaves people feeling physically weak, emotionally drained, spiritually needy, and mentally spent. There aren’t enough hours in the day to take care of all the new needs that must be filled, such as medical appointments, as well as the things that are already a part of everyday life. You might wonder when you will ever get off this merry-go-round. Asking for help will make managing your new schedule, easier.

You might feel like you should be able to take care of these things alone. While cancer patients might only feel comfortable getting help from their caregiver, caregivers often feel like they are solely responsible to care for the patient. After asking for help, caregivers sometimes feel as if they have somehow failed. That’s how I felt in the beginning.

Some people are too embarrassed to ask for help

So often, people who are dealing with an illness like cancer hesitate to ask for help. They don’t want to be a “bother” to others, or they think the problem will pass. Later, they find out that if they’d asked for help right away, things would have been a lot easier. The irony is that most people, who avoid asking for help, are the first to be there in a friend’s time of need.

People Want to Help

They see you in a time of need and would like to do something to ease that burden. I remember when we bought our home in 2013. There was a lot that needed to be done as we prepared for our move, and Dan was dealing with his new cancer diagnosis as well as side effects from treatment.

A friend had mentioned that I should let her know when we were about to move. When the time came, I didn’t want to bother her, so I never brought it up again—despite the fact that I became so overwhelmed.

Thankfully, she persisted. When she saw me in church, she again offered “I’ve wanted to help you in some way since finding out about Dan’s cancer. But I’m not a cook, so I can’t bring a meal. But, I am gifted at organizing, so this will be a great opportunity to help.”

I accepted. She was amazing! My friend brought over boxes and helped to pack and move them. She made what could have been a stressful day, much easier.

It was an eye-opener for me.

There are lots of ways that people can lighten your load. Often they can do things that might be overwhelming for you, but which are easy for them. It’s up to you to do the one thing that will help prevent burnout more than any other.

A to Z Blogging ChallengeThe A to Z Blogging Challenge

Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace.  At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you find it easy to ask for help? I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

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Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer


In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

Also, check out Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer.

Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

16 comments on “Asking for Help to Avoid Burnout

Great post! And very important thoughts.
Thank you for participating in A to Z! 🙂

The Multicolored Diary
Tarkabarka recently posted…A is for the Apricot Fairy (A to Z Challenge 2019: Fruit Folktales)My Profile


Thank you, Tarkabarka. Have a wonderful day!

Excellent post! I subscribed to your blog because I think it’s something that we could all benefit from. As a cancer survivor, it’s great to see the positive side of things. I also have several friends and family members who are in various stages of different types of cancers, so I’m hoping to gain something that I will be able to share with them as well.
Mary Burris recently posted…#AtoZChallenge : BlueMy Profile


Thank you for subscribing, Mary. I hope you’re doing well. Cancer really does give survivors, caregivers, and those who have lost loved ones, a common bond. It’s a club I would rather not be in, but I sure have met a lot of wonderful people. Have a fantastic day. 🙂

Insightful post. Yes, asking for help is difficult for many reasons, but people are inherently helpful we just need to take a step and I am sure everyone will pitch in.



Hi Meena. You are so right. My husband was put on in-home hospice this week. I had so much to do in order to get ready for him to come home from the hospital. So many people helped me. I never could have gotten it all done without them. And, even though we were working, we had a good time. We laughed and cried and shared stories. Friendships deepen through these experiences. Have a wonderful day!

I have always felt that asking for help would mean bothering people. Everyone has some or other issue and if I ask for help, then I am only burdening them with my troubles, which would make me feel guilty. It was only recently, when a cousin spoke to me and stressed the importance of asking for help, that I changed my mind. She said she would feel better if I unburdened my troubles with her. This way, she would know how I am, instead of worrying about me all the time.


Hi Shilpa. One of the things I love about the A to Z Blogging Challenge is getting to discover other blogs that I love–and love to recommend. I hope my readers will check out your blog because your subject for A to Z, Self-Care, is one that I really believe in. It’s especially important for caregivers. Have a wonderful day!

This is a really amazing and motivating post. Thank you for writing it. I’m sharing it on social media because I think it’s a really important read.

J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author
J Lenni Dorner recently posted…April Blogging from A to Z #AtoZchallenge THEME REVEAL #BooksMy Profile


Thank you, J Lenni. Sometimes I feel like I need to read it again, myself. This week I found myself approaching burnout and calling a few friends to help, made all of the difference. Have a great day!

People really do want to help. It took me a long time to be able to ask for help in my particular situation (cancer struckan aging in-law who developed a rare cancer)and my developmentally disabled brother in law. This brought back a lot of memories.
Alana recently posted…Binghamton New York #BloggingfromAtoZ #BlogboostMy Profile


Hi Alana, It’s too bad that it so often takes a tragedy to teach us how to ask for help. Thank you for stopping by!

Very informative post. I’m sure we could all benefit from reading your thoughts. Visiting from #AtoZ


Thank you, Jennifer. Happy A to Z!

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