My friend has breast cancer. What can I do?
(June 5, 2006) — “I have breast cancer” is a phrase we hope never to hear from a friend.
Unfortunately, statistics show that you will likely have to confront this dreadful
news during your lifetime. While the diagnosis is life altering for your friend,
you’ll find yourself riding your own roller coaster of emotions. Depending upon
your personality style, you may want to take over and be involved with every
aspect of her treatment and recovery; or you may feel helpless and even try to avoid the situation by saying to yourself, “I’m sure she has too many people calling her. She probably doesn’t want to talk to me.”
Of course we feel awkward talking to someone who has breast cancer (or any illness for that matter), so it’s easiest to ignore the situation. But in reality, there’s much that you can do and say that will help your friend through her challenge:
Some women may want privacy, while others need an abundance of people to help them through. Listen and watch the response you get from your friend so that you can be accommodating.
Offer your favorite books, magazines and DVDs to keep her entertained during this tough period of time… bring over popcorn and watch the DVDs together.
Keep inviting your friend to usual commitments, and let her decide if she will attend. Don’t assume and stop asking. Instead, make sure she has a chance to feel “in the loop.”
Send cards or call to let her know you are thinking about her.
Take turns with other friends making dinner for her family one night a week.
Simple tasks – like doing laundry or mowing the lawn – will allow her more time to spend with her family (even if she is able to do these on her own).
Take her children to the park for an afternoon or host a slumber party at your house to let her have a little time to herself.
Don’t always make the topic of the conversation “cancer.” Instead, talk about fun events as you normally would. Help her to think positively about herself and her family’s future.