Family matters when times are tough

When Monica’s brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer, it shattered her world. 

But as she struggled to carry the emotional weight of the prospect of losing her brother, the responsibilities of life carried on. 

Monica became her brother’s full-time carer. Over the last months of his life, Monica was struggling with all her brother’s care needs, while also managing life’s usual responsibilities. At the same time, she was trying to deal with the emotional toll of her brother’s diagnosis. 

Monica was breaking. And she’s not alone. 

More than 450 Australians are diagnosed with cancer every single day, with almost two in five predicted to be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85. 

One of the most challenging aspects of this difficult time is that despite their internal struggle, everyday life must go on. This leaves those people in a difficult and vulnerable position, forced to balance navigating their diagnosis with their other responsibilities, such as looking after their children, cooking, cleaning, or walking their dog.

Unlike Kate Middleton and King Charles, your average Australian is not always backed by an established support system or with an abundance of resources at their fingertips.

While research shows people with stronger social bonds have a 50 per cent increased likelihood of survival than those who have fewer social connections, even those with a strong social network can find it difficult to ask for help. Similarly, many well-meaning friends and family don’t quite know how to offer help. 

That’s where Gather My Crew comes into play, offering proactive support to break down the barriers of people needing to ask for help.

Essentially, the Gather My Crew app is a free online rostering system, acting as a middle man between a person in need and their ‘crew’ – those people that want to help but aren’t sure how. 

After you set up your account, you can then select from hundreds of things you might need help with, including school pickups, washing, transport, even weekend activities for the kids. Basically, all the things that make living a normal life possible. 

After you’ve chosen these, you can then invite family and friends to join your crew, who can then choose the specific items they’re able to help you with.    

“As humans, we are inherently social beings. We thrive on community support, especially during times of crisis,” said Dr Susan Palmer, Psychologist, Founder and Clinical Lead of Gather My Crew:

“During periods of heightened stress, cognitive overload can impair our communication and decision-making, making it harder to deal with challenging situations and think logically during this time.

However, research consistently shows that individuals with robust social support systems fare better in times of crisis, experiencing lower levels of stress and greater resilience. 

“By proactively gathering our crew and fostering interconnectedness within our communities, we not only help our own well-being but also create a foundation of solidarity and compassion.”

According to Dr Palmer, the issue with saying ‘Let me know how I can help’ is that it requires the person struggling to go back and ask for specific things which can sadly work as a barrier to receiving the help they actual need. 

“On the flip side, people are ready to give help and have the best intentions but don’t know how to go about it or what to offer,” Dr Palmer said.


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