The Tipping List
A Friend In Need
15 ways to really help a friend with breast cancer
-Nicole Johnson, Fresh Brewed Life
This October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness month, as the world shines a light on women struggling with breast cancer, it’s probably brought to mind for you the question “What do I say and do when a friend has cancer? “
Certainly, it can be challenging to know how to reach out to our friends and loved ones who need us as they battle breast cancer. And because there is no guidebook for us to turn to during this difficult process, here are some tips and suggestions on how to help a friend who has cancer or who’s battling any serious illness.
When a friend gets sick, we feel helpless and even a little lost. We desperately want to help but find ourselves at a loss for what we can do. We would rather do nothing than get in our friend’s way or add to her burden, so sadly we often do nothing.
First of all, don’t ask your friend what you can do; you know as well as I do that she won’t want to tell you. To really support her, you have to jump and think of creative ways to help. Here’s a list of tried-and-true tips:
1. Let her know you’d like to go with her to the doctor. Offer to pick her up, take notes during the appointment or simply hold her purse, and then drive her home.
2. Bring food that freezes well in disposable containers. Label the containers with the contents as well as reheating instructions.
3. Offer to be the friend who will let others know what is happening with her health. You could set up a phone tree or an e-mail group, so she doesn’t have to constantly be communicating.
4. Take her car out, fill it with fuel and have it washed.
5. Leave a bag outside her door to fill with her laundry that needs to be done. Take the laundry home with you and bring it back that day or the very next day, cleaned and folded.
6. Send a manicurist or a masseuse to her house. Be sure to pay for the service, including a gratuity, in advance, and let your friend know you have done so.
7. Ask if she needs a wrapped gift for her child to take to a birthday party. Go out and buy the gift, wrap it and get it back to her a day ahead of the party. Offer to drive her child to and from the party.
8. See if your husband can take her husband out for golf or invite him over to watch a game. Often, no one thinks of the stress a husband carries when his wife is ill.
9. Schedule a weekly “pick-up or drop-off” run for things like dry cleaning, movie rentals and prescriptions.
10. Provide her with a housecleaner for a day. Pay the housecleaner and let your friend know you have taken care of everything.
11. In her mailbox, leave an envelope of gift certificates or coupons to places that deliver food.
12. Offer to help write, address and stamp thank-you notes for her. Bring over some pretty stationery and several booklets of stamps. And allow her to dictate some notes, and you can send them out.
13. Go card shopping and give her an assortment of occasion cards (anniversary, graduation, birthday, etc.) that she can use. Bundle them together with a nice pen and some pretty stamps.
14. Take her kids out to see a fun movie or for ice cream. She will love knowing they are having fun when she can’t be the one to do it.
15. Pick up a grocery bag of “staples” (bread, juice, cereal, milk, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.) and drop them off at her door. Call (or e-mail, if the items aren’t perishable) to let her know they are there.