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My best friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer again, I feel helpless

By Guide October 10, 2014 - 12:10pm
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My best friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer...again! She had a tumor removed from her breast a few years ago and during a recent mammogram, they found another tumor. She said she is considering her options and all she asks of me is to pray. 

Can someone please give me some helpful advice on how to support her. I don't want my own fears to upset her. 

I am hoping to get some advice from breast cancer survivors. Please help!

Thank you!


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Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger


Hi Kristin and thanks for your concern for your friend.

The first and best thing that anyone can do for someone with cancer is to listen to them and really HEAR what they are saying. As a two-time cancer survivor, what I hear your friend saying is that right now she is processing the clinical information, the broad range of emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis and is also having to think about practical things like paying for treatment. In other words, she needs some time to process this right now.

A simple thing you could do, that would mean a lot right now, would be to buy, or even better make, a personal greeting card for her, letting her know that you care and are there for her.

If you want to you could make a list of things you would be happy to help her with, giving her some choices, for when the time is right. For example, if she has children, you can offer to care for them during her appointments and other times. You can offer to get groceries, and grocery cards are one of the best gifts you can give. You can help with transportation needs in many ways, by driving her to appointments or maybe providing a gift card for a ride service like Lyft.

There are many other things you could offer as options, including making and delivering meals, gifting a good book, offering a fun day at the spa in the future when she wants to relax during her recovery, offering to help with pet care if she has a dog or cat. The offers really depend on your friend's lifestyle and situation.

A lot of times people feel helpless when they hear someone has cancer - basically because there is nothing they can do about the cancer - and that leads to wanting to "do" something. That lasts a couple of weeks or maybe a couple of months, and then people go their merry way and resume their lives and forget about the person with cancer. So one of the best things you could "do" is to simply decide that you are going to maintain contact with  your friend, in some way or another, over the the weeks and months it may take for her to manage her current cancer situation. Something as simple as sending a card to her every week, serious ones AND silly ones, would mean a lot and help her feel better because they let her know she's not alone and that you care.

I suspect what you would really like to do is to make the cancer go away, but that's not possible. Hopefully some of the suggestions I've made are appropriate for her or will help you think of some other things that are very specific to your friend.

Finally, I want to emphasize again the need to listen and take your cues from the patient. Too many people *think* they know what a person needs and then try to impose something that they, themselves, would want....which is offensive and isn't helpful.

Thanks again for looking out for your friend,


October 10, 2014 - 6:08pm
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