Best Friend Has Breast Cancer

Updated on January 23, 2009
M.S. asks from Spencer, WI
20 answers

My 42-year old best friend found out the day after Christmas she has breast cancer. She had the lumpectomy today. They found the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. She will need aggressive treatment. She is a single mom of a 8 year old girl. I live in a different town but am only 30 minutes away. I am wondering what I can do to help in this situation. I know she will have a long road ahead of her with radiation and chemo. I want to help anyway I can. Also, does anyone have any suggestions I can pass along to her to help her cope with this situation too?

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answers from La Crosse on

just be with her! laugh with her, cry with her. offer rides to and from treatments (she will need them as she wont be able to drive after the treatments). on weekends go over and help with house work. take her daughter for a night or two so she can sleep. make some meals that all she will have to do is heat it up. make sure you respect her wishes and don't take offense to them.

my grandfather is going threw the same thing right now. he has cancer of the lung and lymph nodes. at times he wants to be alone (expectally after he lost all his hair that he was very proud of) then would get mad cause nobody was there when he didn't want to be alone. its an emotional ride for all involved trying to guess thier mood swings! he isn't too bad with just the radiation 5 days a week, but when he has to go in for the chemo shots he is wiped out and bearly wants to eat or do anything but sleep. one good thing he hasn't gotten sick once with the chemo shots.

good luck and she is lucky to have you as a friend. it may be draining on you and your family doing all the extra stuff for her but she will apprecate it so much in the end!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I know you have lots of responses, but I thought I could give you a little of advice. My mom was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer and also had to have an aggressive treatment. One thing she said was the most helpful was when she had chemo treatments I would go along, picking lunch up before or while they did some inital work, and we would sit together and have lunch. So even though she was getting chemo she still looked forward to our time together. Also my mom totally lost interest in cooking food and even if she hadn't she was usually too tired or sick to make dinner, so I think the idea of having food that could easily be heated for her daughter is a great idea. And I know everyone is different- but we would make fun of the situation. She always had rather large breast so we would joke about how much weight she would lose after having them removed, or how much better her back would feel. Cancer can be so serious and sometimes its nice to give it a "lighter" side.



answers from Waterloo on

I've also been through breast cancer with MY best friend. I live in a different state than her, so the best I could do was long distance support. I shaved my head with her when she lost hers, but that might be a little extreme for you! LoL Since you live so close I would help her with housework, errands, and her daughter as much as you can. Chemo wore my friend out very quickly. Let her know how much you love her and you're there for her every step of the way.

I'm also going to give you a website that I try to visit daily that you can click on do donate a free mammogram. Very easy and no registration needed =) Plus they also have shopping to support breast cancer research: Pass it along to your friends!



answers from Lincoln on

My sister just finished her breast cancer battle and lives several hours away. She referred to me as her "caseworker" because at every step along the way, I would research things for her on the internet and email the pages to her. She appreciated this very much! When she needed to choose a cancer treatment center, I listened and then researched it for her and sent her the pages so SHE could choose. When she wanted to know if her doctor was good, I researched that. When she needed to choose which surgery to have, or questioned a medicine, I researched that. Just be careful not to research ahead of her treatment steps too much as that could be overwhelming, and never send information on possible causes, diet changes, or anything that could be taken as sounding "preachy". Otherwise, all the other suggestions are great too, driving her to appointments, helping wig shop (I went with my sis), meals, help with her daughter, help tracking the medical billing, etc. When my sister was close to losing her hair, I found a website with attractive scarves and hats and sent it to her, then she called and we picked them out on the phone together. I then cut my long hair and donated it in her honor. Most importantly, LISTEN, but never tell her how she should feel, and acknowledge (and laugh) with her that "cancer sucks".



answers from Minneapolis on

hi i have a friend/sister that was diagnois with the same thing and what i found was helpful was to go to appt. with her when i can and always have family nightout and cook for her from time to time. she has a 22yr old daughter and a 17years old son who knows what going on but don't really know so i try to find support group that we all could attend so the stress could be a lot easy as a group instead of by her self. she always talks about what if and trying to seek way to better prepare her children because for the seven last doctor visit the news has not beig good it the cancer has spread to 50% of her body her liver her spine her shoulderblads but we have the faith that with Gog all things are possible to them who believe so we have that in this year she will be totally heal in Jesus name.



answers from Bismarck on

my husband died from lung cancer and one of the things that helped was when someone brought food that could be heated. Perhaps on the days she is so ill from chemo you could take her 8 year old until the nausea passes. It would also help if you could put together some meals and freeze them so she can just pop them in her microwave. Encourage her to join a support group so she doesn't feel so alone. and you--- just be there for her, cry with her, laugh with her and listen while she vents.



answers from Wausau on

Ask her if you can call her each week (or each day if you think she'd rather have that) to see how she's doing, and to ask if there's anything she needs that you can do for her.

Offering to come and do household chores will help not only her, but also her daughter, who will undoubtedly be shouldering more and more of the load. Cook large batches of meals to freeze and bring them to her each week, so her daughter have something to eat. (Your friend likely will at some point not be eating much.)

See if you can arrange to have her daughter come on outings with your family, so the little girl can have some sense of normalcy during this time.

If her insurance company is being stubborn about covering her medical expenses, try to help her fight that battle as well. You can do that by dealing with her insurance company directly (with her approval, of course), shopping for a lawyer, or just being with her when she tries to fight the ins company. The same goes for her workplace, if she is still working. (A friend of mine had trouble with both ins and work when she had cancer).

The thing my friend said she liked best was receiving "thinking of you" cards and receiving books to read. If you are making weekly trips, you could arrange to borrow from a local library and bring her new reading material each week. Or you could buy books you think she would enjoy.

You could include artwork from your own daughters in the cards as well.

She's going to be sick, bored, tired, and emotional. Plus she is going to be truing to look after her daughter. Just think of what you would like best under those circumstances.

I am praying for you and your friend and her daughter.


answers from Milwaukee on

i can understand how you best friend's mother has 4 different cancers. and there is nothing left to do for her. my friend's mother lives with her. i just gave my friend a card today telling how i will be her team of one support team. if you can go over to her house and help with laundry...bring her her favorite lunch. go shopping together. and hold the bucket for her as she gets sick. cry with her and rejoice with her. all you can do is be the friend that you are to her!!!



answers from Rapid City on

You've gotten some great advice! I'd just add that if you can afford it, gas cards/gift certificates for eating out could really be a big help. If her treatment requires any travel. Also, I love the idea of sending frozen meals, also think about healthy snacks/fresh fruits and veggies, anything that would be easy to grab and eat, and help to make her stronger. Depending on her personality, you might have to be a little insistent on helping, but she'll appreciate it after the first couple of times. Like, if she doesn't want you to do her laundry, offer to send it to a local cleaners/laundromat that will wash and fold them. All you'd do is pick-up and deliver. Going to visit, playing games, caring for her daughter (overnights sometimes)... I'm sure you'll be a wonderful friend during this difficult time!



answers from Minneapolis on

I was diagnosed a year and a half ago. I was devastated. I had lost my job and was several months into looking for a new job and getting insurance coverage with that. I needed to cry. I needed hugs. I felt like I was moving on a conveyor belt just being shuffled from one doctor's office to the next. I was in physical and emotional pain for nine months and then I just woke up one day and decided that I had given up enough of my life to the disease.

After the surgery, it was hard for me to have people come every day with food because I was so down and miserable, I didn't feel up to visiting with new people every day and retelling my story over and over to everyone that came to visit. I know not everyone will feel that way, but I think sometimes just quiet and rest and not feeling that you need to get cleaned up for company is a burden too.

I went back to work at a new job two weeks after my surgery. I would not do that again. I would say your friend needs rest. Make your phone number close at hand so she can call you if she is up for it.

Washing, drying, styling my hair was the worst chore. A head massage or back massage would have been great. Helping with children would be great. Just listening and watching TV with her would be great.

Just know that you cannot understand what she is going through without having gone through it yourself. I almost feel like I am better for it now because I quickly came to learn that you need to appreciate every day and don't sweat the small stuff.

Running errands for her is good too. Helping with her daughter is great because she will fell terrible if her daughter has to miss out on things because of her illness.

I had three friends who had had cancer and they supported me all the way and I felt I could trust their coaching.

Good luck to your friend. "Listen" carefully to what she says when you ask her how you can help. If she brushes it off, make some suggestions (to plant in her mind for her to think about) and she may just well take you up on some of them...even if she says no at first.



answers from Iowa City on

Hi M.,
What a great friend you are! I am a 10 year survivor myself. Encourage her to read, it's a great way to take the mind to a different place.
My grown daughter helped me alot. Just being there, is huge!
When going through treatments one doesn't have much energy so doing something to help clean the house is huge, and anything that would normally smell good didn't
So keep reminding her this is temporary. The mind has so much to do with healing so do your best with kind encouraging words.
I actually found my new job as an Arbonne consultant through my journey. Now I love introducing people to pure SAFE products that work!
You are a great friend, she will appreciate all you do.



answers from St. Cloud on

Your friend needs above all support from you and her family. Depending on how she responds to treatment, she may get weak and sick and will need help with everything, including taking care of her daughter. You may, if you are able, offer to have her daughter stay at your house if she needs someone to watch her for a few days after each treatment, etc. Offering to clean her home, run errands, etc. may also be very helpful.


answers from Appleton on

I just found out last week my 29 year old friend who also lives far away has stage II breast cancer. First thing I did was send her a flower arrangement to brighten her day. I know there isn't much that can be done from out of town and figured this would brighten her day since I was not there to give her a hug. From what I have read online best thing to do is be there for her. If she is going to have any more procedures such as chemo or radiation offer to go, if possible, to her first appointment with her and just keep an open line of communication so she knows you are there. Best wishes!



answers from Appleton on

Hello - I recently found this website to be really inspiring:

There is a great video on it, and the book the speaker wrote sounds like it's amazing. It might be great for you and your friend!

Good luck to you and your friend - I'm sure she values your friendship!



answers from Minneapolis on

Sorry to hear about your friend, M.! You can do so many things for her...and the best thing you can do is to be with her and encourage her. Remind her how much doctors know about this kind of cancer and how many people get well. Remind her with your presence that she's not alone. Go with her to get a wig BEFORE her hair falls out. Find a source for scarves so she can have a soft alternative, and help her pick one out. When my friend was going through this, we'd meet for coffee (sometimes out, sometimes at my house). I'd pick her up when she couldn't drive; take her out sometimes just to get her out of the house. Sometimes she was very weak, and we'd just sit; sometimes she'd want to walk a little...I'd so whatever. Be so positive for her and with her. Cry with her; laugh with her. Take food to her (we'd take something frozen so she could use whenever, or sometimes I'd make a little more for our dinner and take the other half to her already prepared) so she doesn't have to think about what her 8 year old will eat. Get groceries for her when she's sick. Maybe your girls can make cards to cheer her. Or sun catchers to brighten her day. Listen to what she tell you she wants or needs and respond the best way you can.

Since you're already thinking about her, you will be a great source of encouragement for her. You guys will grow closer through this, too.

I think the best thing you can do is stay positive...even when you don't feel like it. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on


I am a 5 year Survivior of Breast Cancer,I had a very aggressive Breast Cancer, (lobular ) vascular invasive also. My friends and family made meals for my whole family for a whole week, the chemo was very hard and any smell made me sick. Any support with helping cleaning her house running errands will help. My name is L. Johnstone, you can give her my number if she wants to talk about it with a survivor, my number is ###-###-####.

Sincerely, L. Soj-Johnstone
I will keep her in my prayers.



answers from Omaha on

Today my friend is celebrating her one year anniversary of being cancer free. She has a very close network of family and friends, and even tho most of us were not able to physically go through this with her, she kept a journal of her doctors visits, her thoughts and feelings, and everything she was going through on a website called caringbridge. We were notified every time she made a journal entry and were able to read everything that was happening, which kinda made me feel as if I were going through it with her. We were able to send words of encouragement and offer her prayers. It was a wonderful way to keep everyone up to date. It was wonderful for my friend to spend her time reading the notes that people had sent her. If your friend has a network of friends and family this will most likely help her out alot.



answers from Des Moines on

I am a 8 year survivor and there are lots of things you can do! Depending on her personality, I guess I would say try to find the humor in all of it. It can be hard to do, but it makes it more bearable. When it came time to lose my hair, we had a hair shaving party and made funny haircuts along the way (I was 28 when dx). If she has longer hair now, have her get it cut shorter so when it does start to fall out it isn't so traumatic. I agree about the meals and cleaning - she will find that very helpful. There are also some funny t-shirts or mugs you can get her at Just search out funny cancer tshirts and lots of things will pop up. Go to chemo with her if you can - at least her first one. that's the worst one when you don't know what to expect. Personally, it wasn't too bad for me. Get her the Susan Love's Breast Cancer book - it is very helpful for all phases of treatment. Send her funny cards. Maybe take her daughter when she has chemo so she can get some rest. You usually feel the worst 2 -3 days after chemo. And most importantly just be a good listener for her. Some days will be good. Some will be bad. But she will get through it. Good luck! She is lucky to have a friend like you!



answers from Minneapolis on

M. - there are several things that your friend can do to help herself in conjunction with medical treatments. Google the words cancer and sugar and then cancer and ph balance. You will find that one theory talks about how much cancer loves sugar. You'll also find that your ph balance has a lot to do with illness in your body. Changing eating habits can go a long way in helping - cutting out sugar and choosing foods that are higher in alkaline value.

Prayers are always good too!

All the best to you,



answers from Minneapolis on

I am a colon cancer survior. It is no doubt that your friend has a tough road ahead of her. It can be very scary. If she needs chemo and radiation therapy then she might be able to file disabilty. Also have her check into programs such as cancer care,.. they can help with daycare cost and transportation costs. Contact a social worker to see what other programs can bebfit her. The Lance armstrong foundation also has social workers that can help free of charge. My best wishes to your friend.

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