It seems inevitable that someone we know and love will be confronted with a cancer diagnosis in his or her lifetime. I have seen several amazing women in my life be surprised by the words, “You have cancer.” They were healthy people with tons of energy. Yet there it was.
You can feel powerless when you see someone you love have to say words like “chemo” when talking about their plans for the weekend.
The fiancé of my friend Monica was saddened by her lack of energy — she is normally a vivacious fireball. Monica said, “I miss her too.” She was speaking about the version of herself that was so vibrant months ago.
The purpose of you as friend is to be with this new person, even though they may be dramatically different from the person you knew.
Although my cousin Carrol has told me that she is not being given anything she can’t handle, emotions ebb and flow, as does strength.
Monica sat down with me over Skype with a gloriously beautiful bald held and gave me some wonderful pointers that I feel can help all of us to be better friends to our warrior, cancer-battling loved ones:
1) Do visit (but call first).
At this point in your friend’s life, it will be easier for you to come to them. Do so graciously.
2) Bring food.
Monica admits, “Anything that makes this journey less exhausting is appreciated.”
Ask if there are any new dietary restrictions, which is common when one is healing. Monica adds, “Please feel free to eat things in front of me that I can't have, but don't offer them to me. If you do, it says you are testing me or not respecting me.”
3) Phone someone else for details.
Ask your friend if there is a contact person or that you can be in touch with to ask how she is doing. This is better than asking her directly.
Monica admits that the many phone calls “can be overwhelming.” Feel free to send your friend notes or emails to let her know you are thinking of her, without expecting a response.
4) Include your friend in your life.
You are still friends, and don’t leave out the details of what is going on with you.