This is something I never anticipated having to write. A post that if you find yourself reading, please know I am hugging you through the screen right now because it is a diagnosis no one wants to hear for themselves or for someone they love. Yet, in the same breath I want to commend you for taking the initiative to sit down and dive into something hard, heavy and not for the faint of heart.
Walking your friend through a cancer diagnosis is something that neither of you will ever forget.
You see, about a month ago a friend of mine mentioned to me that she thought she had a lump in her breast and that she was going to contact her doctor about it. I encouraged her, but of course didn’t jump to any conclusions and from there supported her as she had her first ultrasound, leading to a second, and finally a biopsy.
What you’re never really prepared for is the call where out of someone’s mouth that you love you hear the words “I have breast cancer”. No one really talks about how to handle something like that, about what to do next or the right words in that moment. This is the moment where I tell you I actually do not have the right answer. But I can tell you where the answer should come from – a place of love not fear, a place of hope not doubt.
When your friend tells you the news you were praying they wouldn’t receive, what they need in that moment is to figuratively lift them and simply “be”. You don’t need to feel like you have to “fix” anything, because there is nothing you can fix in this situation. In my experience, just being there in whatever way they need you at that moment, is enough.
Now, my best friend just started her first round of chemotherapy so I don’t have all the answers yet but here are a few things that I’ve done that maybe you could do to help take some of the weight off.
Organize a meal train.
I organized with a group of women to pick up some of her favourite meals and dropped them off for her so that the last thing she would need to worry about is cooking.
Another thing I did was reach out to a group we’re connected with and ask everyone to write her an encouraging letter that she could read during her chemo treatments. She was moved to tears when we presented her with these.
I also reached out to our favourite salon and have lined up one of the stylists to shave her head when she is ready. I also contacted a family member who is a veterinarian to get some surgical masks to protect her as we enter the flu season.
Spend time with her.
Lastly, I took a day off work to be with her and to simply bring normalcy to her day. We both have babies a week apart and so as a mom she is incredibly worried that this diagnosis will in some way affect her son, and so I am doing everything in my power to keep his life normal to take some of the stress off her.
At the end of the day, we’re all afraid of going through something like this but even deeper than that is the fear of doing it alone. If you can take some weight off your friends shoulders in addition to not just saying that she won’t be alone but by physically being there you can help take the edge off of what will be one of the most trying chapters of her life.
Jenny lives in Oakville, Ontario with her husband, daughter and pup. She founded a third-party organization called Dancers for Cancer, where she helped raise 1M dollars for SickKids hospital. She graduated from Windsor Law and is excited to use her writing skills to help encourage and inspire mamas! Read more about her here!