Having someone close to you be diagnosed with breast cancer can seem frightening, overwhelming, and maybe you feel a little helpless. How do you help? How do you let your friend know she is loved, supported, and cared for during this time? Here are 7 practical ways in which you can show support to your friend diagnosed with breast cancer.
This is just a sampling of 7 practical ways you can support your friend. Find out if there is a coordinator that is already setting up care, meals, etc. Oftentimes, as the newly diagnosed, it’s overwhelming. So having a person that can help handle all the inquiries is helpful. Ask if she has “a person”. If not, perhaps you can offer to be that person for her.
This is somewhat of a no brainer. Tragedy equals meals. Growing up in an Italian house, food was always the epicenter of emotion. Holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals, sickness, and new babies, were synonymous with good eating. My mom cooked (and still does) for an army. If there were 20 guests, she cooked enough food for 60, because you can never run out of food and, of course, leftovers.
Set up a meal train or some other meal service for your friend. Organize friends, neighbors, and relatives so that they can receive healthy, simple, nourishing meals during recovery. Find out if there are any dietary restrictions and preferences ahead of time and encourage people to vary what they bring. While every act of kindness is appreciated, no one wants to eat lasagna five nights a week.
If your friend has children, it is helpful to arrange a schedule to help care for them. Depending on the age, you can offer to help with basic childcare, run them to activities/school/sports, and playdates. The children need some normalcy in their days and the energy you can provide in doing that is invaluable.
My children were very young when I had my first surgery. (2 1/2 and 13 months) I couldn’t lift my daughter 6 weeks (at least) post op, so it was critical for safety I have someone with me round the clock to help care for her along with my son. It’s truly a blessing if you can help in this way.
3. Driving to appointments
Aside from basic errands you could do for your friend, it is helpful to offer to drive her to appointments those first few weeks before she is cleared to drive. I needed multiple caregivers those first weeks. Someone to watch my young children while I recovered and my husband went back to work, as well as someone to drive me to doctor appointments. It’s also helpful to have a second set of ears at those appointments so you don’t forget anything the doctor says.
4. Recommending podcasts/books/movies
Offer to bring her books that she hasn’t read yet. It was helpful to just escape some of my reality at times and get lost in a good book. If you need a recommendation, see my first article in this series Here. Making a playlist for her or recommending uplifting podcasts or movies is also helpful.
5. Sitting – Just Being with her
Cancer can be lonely. Most of my days were spent in bed, resting, reading, and sitting with my kids when I could. Having someone sit with you through can be a comfort. While I did need rest, oftentimes, I also needed to know that my friends were still there for me. You don’t need to say anything about the cancer all the time. Just sit and be with your friend. Share your life too. Staying connected is crucial in friendship and while she needs you, you also need her. While she may not be able to give you all that you need right now, she will give what she can and you sharing your life and her listening is life giving. She will appreciate the time and effort you are giving to your friendship.
6. Mastectomy Kit
The first part of this series talks about the 15 must have items your friends will need to prep for surgery. Ask her if this is something she would like. If so, offer to create an Amazon wish list and offer to send friends to this list if they ask if there is anything they can do. Click here to read that article.
7. Pray! Words of encouragement, cards
The outpouring of words was such a blessing to me during this time. I received countless cards and emails. I would encourage you to write down your thoughts to your friend. To go back and reread those sentiments can be uplifting during the hard days. Also knowing that people were genuinely praying for me, literally lifted me up. Prayer warriors are awesome. If you can, arrange a team of people that are praying for your friend constantly. There truly is power in prayer and this was what boosted my faith the most. Find prayer warriors who will storm heaven on her behalf!
I pray this is truly helpful during this emotional time. Your friend may not even know what she needs and it’s helpful to have these suggestions ready to offer to her. If you have found other supportive ideas that you have used to help your friend through cancer, I’d love to hear from you. Please comment and share your ideas.
[This is Part 2 of a 3 part series on breast cancer support. Click here for Part 1 “15 Must Have Items for Your Mastectomy” and click here for Part 3 “How to Stay Connected to God Through Your Breast Cancer Journey”]