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how do I help a friend? how do I help a friend?

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Unread 01-17-2004, 08:48 AM
how do I help a friend?

my dear friend and former business partner was diagnosed with breast cancer in Dec 2002. I'm afraid I don't know details with abbreviations and such. But she went through chemotherapy and suffered so much. Then surgery in July, and 6 weeks of radiation. In November 2003 all her tests results came back clean: blood tests, bone tests, etc.

I had my hsyt on Dec 30th, 2003, and she was so looking forward to visiting me and taking care of me. But the same day she got very sick with congestion. Well, after the past 2 weeks of doctors, ERs, and hospital stays, it has been discovered that she has fluid on her lungs, and the cancer is now in her lungs and bones. She and I have been on the phone crying for days.

Her doctor has submitted her files to a medical center in Indianapolis for a clinical trial. We will know in a few days if they will accept her. My problem is: how do I help her? I am so frightened for her? She lives about and hour and a half away from me, and I am not allowed to drive yet, so we keep in touch by phone. She has her husband and 2 adolescent daughters, and a host of family and friends nearby to help, but I need advice on how to talk to her.

We are both 49, and she is so frightened she won't live to her 50th birthday this year in June. We had planned to do something BIG together, as our birthdays are only 4 days apart. I am so freaked out about her and I don't know what to say or do. Can anyone advise me?

Thank you for any words or ideas you can share.
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Unread 01-17-2004, 08:56 AM
how do I help a friend?

Just always being there for her and doing what she asks would be wonderful.

When I had my hysterectomy, almost 2 years ago, my best friend was visiting England. The day she arrived home, she was at my door and she had also called my house, checking up on my condition, while I was in the hospital.

I do believe that true friends do not have to say anything to each other. There is a friendship bond that needs no words.

Unread 01-17-2004, 10:16 AM
how do I help a friend?

Hi, Junie.

You are very sweet to seek out the wonderful people on this board for advice on how to help your friend.

My first thought would be, why wait to do something big for her birthday? Why not go on a wonderful trip now? Once she enters a clinical trial, she might also be suffering as she did through her first chemo. So if she is up and around and mobile, maybe now is the time to go do something to take your minds off what's happening in her lungs. Just a thought.

As far as how to support her, it sounds to me like you are already supporting her by calling, listening, not running away, treating her like the friend she has always been, and just being there. During my chemo, the friends who insisted on coming by or who made time for lunch or whatever held a special place in my heart. Many people sent cards, but a lot of them stayed away because they didn't know what to do or say. I preferred it when people were persistent and kept calling if I didn't call back. :-)

In terms of what to say or do, the "what to say" part should include honesty. Happy things to get your minds off of it. Logical and practical things to deal with the reality she may be facing. A clinical trial may work wonders, so it's not time to throw in the towel. Does she have any sort of faith or nearby church that she can turn to? That might help. I think that if I am ever in the same situation, I will be scared and I will cry and I will be mad because I'm not ready to go . . . but my faith will bring me peace. I know this.

You should be just about recovered from your surgery. Can you go visit her? When can you drive? Can someone else drive you? Hire a shuttle if you need to. An hour and a half is a doable drive. Make the time. It will mean the world to her.

I hope this helps a bit. You are a good friend, and I know your support will mean everything to her as she faces this frightening challenge.

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Unread 01-18-2004, 09:13 AM
how do I help a friend?

Cards! If you are unable to go see her, send her a card every day. I cannot ever forget two gals here in my hometown who are faithful to send me cards all the time.
It is amazing how much a little piece of cardboard with pretty pictures on it can mean when you are home, alone and the mailbox contains mostly bills.

One day they even mailed me a brown envelope full of lollypops!!

Pray for her and let her know you are. Set a certain time each day that you will do this and let her know what the time is. You will both be surprised how your spirits can connect and comfort each other.

And take care of yourself. She wants you healed and healthy, you know

Nancy J.
Unread 01-18-2004, 09:57 AM
how do I help a friend?

Nancy's post reminded me of those great ecards that my best friend used to send me when I going through treatment. She found them on I loved them because many of them played music and they had flowers and other things that danced to the music! She sent them to me on a regular basis and they always brought a smile to my face.

My friend also used to send me real cards too and books of inspirational poems and other articles or things from the internet she thought I'd find interesting. I had told everyone I didn't want visitors in the hospital because I figured I was going to be miserable after surgery. It turned out that I was, but my friend didn't listen and came anyway. I was very glad she did because she's the type of person you want around you when you are sick. I felt like we were in grade school all over again. I am so lucky to have her as a friend of almost 50 years.

Trust your judgment, and just be there for her. You will figure out what to say and do, and no matter what, she will appreciate and treasure it.

Take care.

Unread 01-18-2004, 08:40 PM


My sister arranged a surprise for me while I was going through treatment. Unbeknownst to me, she emailed all of my friends and told them to send me pins, or "flair" in the mail. (Flair is from the movie "Office Space"). She had everyone spread the word. I started receiving different pins in the mail...angel pins, flag pins, flower pins, you name it. It was lots of fun going to the mailbox and even more fun trying to figure out who started this! I even got "Flair" in the mail from one of the news columnists of The Detroit News (major newspaper)!

Elaine (my sister) made a beautiful quilt for me with hands and hearts to give me comfort while I was sick. I pinned all of the "flair" on the quilt. All in all, I probably received 250 pins in the mail! In fact, I just received another one about 3 weeks ago.

It was a great surprise, and a great way to take my mind off of things!

Junie, you are a very dear friend to want to do something for her. I'm sure that anything you do will help her.

Best wishes and S

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