When I was in cancer treatment, I had many people say, "Let me know how I can help." Sometimes I asked for a ride to the doctor, but most of the time I was too set on being independent to ask.
But I would have never asked for what I needed most someone to clean my bathroom You have to know a person pretty well to ask him or her to scrub your toilet, and the two or three people in the whole world I might have actually shared that wish with lived a thousand miles away.
My husband and son are both good housecleaners, and they did their best, but they were also cooking, washing dishes, taking me to doctor’s appointments while trying to do their own work and school tasks.
For the first part of my cancer treatment, walking to the mailbox was a major effort, and for the second part, I was back at work teaching middle school English. I came home every afternoon and went straight to bed.
For most people undergoing cancer treatment, something has to go, and it’s often the cleaning just at a time when chemotherapy makes them more vulnerable to germs just at a time when they are spending more time at home with plenty of time to look at the dust and cobwebs.
Recently I heard about a non-profit group that would have been the perfect solution for my family: Cleaning for a Reason.
Cleaning for a Reason is a non-profit foundation based near Dallas, Texas, founded to help women in cancer treatment with their house cleaning. They will match you with a local professional cleaning service for one free cleaning a month for four months. The residential cleaning services are insured and bonded and are giving back to their communities by agreeing to add two patients at a time to their regular client load for free.
It’s a great idea. The Cleaning for a Reason Foundation has one paid full-time staff member who makes the matches and keeps the paperwork between the cleaning volunteers and the patients who need help, so it is a low overhead venture.
If there is a cleaning service in your area working with Cleaning for a Reason, you fill out an application. If they can match you with a service, you send a note from your doctor verifying that you are indeed in cancer treatment. However, your medical records are not needed, so your privacy is respected.
One drawback, of course, is the requests outstrip the supply of volunteers. The Cleaning for a Reason website says. "Naturally, as with any non-profit organization, the demand far exceeds our ability to serve but we attempt to match as many patients as possible who go through our application process. Since our maid services are businesses, they schedule you within their normal paying customers. Sometimes our maid services are handling the maximum amount of patients already and we have to inform you that they are full."
Cleaning for a Reason is actively recruiting more cleaning services and adds 25-35 new partners a month. The cleaning service gains good will in the community and perhaps some new paying clients after the four free cleanings.
I was not alone in my yearning for a clean bathroom when I was in treatment. I’ve heard many cancer patients express their frustration at their inability to keep their usual housekeeping standards with the press of medical appointments, healing surgical scars, and chemo fatigue. Maybe Cleaning for a Reason can help meet that need for you.
Phyllis Johnson is an inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) survivor diagnosed in 1998. She has written about cancer for HealthCentral since 2007. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the oldest 501(3)© organization focused on research for IBC. She is a list monitor for an online support group at www.ibcsupport.org. Phyllis attends conferences such as the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD® Institute. She tweets at @mrsphjohnson.