Helping a Sick Friend

Updated on June 28, 2008
P.R. asks from Fredericksburg, VA
27 answers

I just found out yesterday that a very good friend has a brain tumor. My heart is breaking. She is a wonderful mother or 5 beautiful children. I feel so helpless. I want to know how to help her. She lives out of state and my ways of helping her family are limited. Im looking for any ideas of how I can be a help to my friend and her family. She is having surgery in a week to have the tumor removed and will have to have rehab for six months after since the tumor is affecting her motor skills. They will also be testing the tumor to find out if it's cancer. So she still has to wait for those results. If any one has any ideas I would appreciate them. Please pray keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for all of you ideas,encourgement and prayers. I will be using all of your ideas. I will keep everyone posted on what happens. All of you stories were touching and inspirational to me. Thank you again. I know she will make it through this. Please just keep praying for her and her family.

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C.C.

answers from Knoxville on

The most important thing you can do is let her know you are thinking of and praying for her. Call and send her cards whenever possible. Another idea, if you can afford it, would be to hire someone to go in a clean house for her a few times after her surgery. Maybe send coupon booklets to some fast food places in their area or gift certificate for a restaurant that she likes. Is there any way you could offer to have some (or all) of her kids come and visit for a few days? But like I said, I think just talking to you and receiving cards will be as much help as anything. I have gone through this with my dad and my cousin, and they both said that just having people stay in touch and not be afraid to say "how are you doing?" was the most helpful thing. And pray, pray, pray!

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C.S.

answers from Nashville on

The couple of things that I can think of would be to see if you can contact a local chapter of a "mom's club" in her area and see if you can have some home cooked meals delivered to her and her family. I think that there are moms that would be honored to help and it would open up a new network of help and support for her. Another resource would be a local church, preferably hers if she attends, but if not just any church would do.... our pastor visits anyone, anytime, anywhere.... so consider that for one of your resources.

Otherwise the website is a nice option for at least keeping everyone in touch and updated... and another thing you might consider is looking into a reputable house cleaning or lawn service to help her around her house, you could always pay over the phone and you may find a generous giver in the mix that will do the service for free a time or two. You just never know what you will find unless you ask.

Good luck and I will be praying for you, your friend and her family.... may God be with you all.

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H.E.

answers from Knoxville on

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I will keep she and her family in my prayers. Please keep us all posted after her surgery and through her recovery.

I love the ideas folks had for the dinners (gift certificates, etc.) to help her out. And, I also loved the idea about the cards and such you could send her to let her know that you're thinking about her.

I would definitely just keep adding her to any prayer chains, and just always let her know (through phone calls, cards, emails, etc.) that you're thinking about her and praying for her. I think that kind of emotional support is far better than anything you could do for her!

Again, please keep us posted ... I will be thinking of she and her family and praying for the best!

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R.B.

answers from Greensboro on

Hi P.!

I have a brain tumor, and the most encouraging thing to me after I was diagnosed was receiving cards. I got so many I made a whole scrapbook out of them. Strangers from all over were sending me cards, but it was so encouraging to find out I had people all over the world praying for me, from Texas, to here in NC, to Russia and Honduras. It was amazing! Calls were great, but the cards stuck with me because I could go back and re-read them. If you can get some folks that have a sincere heart from your church or sunday school to send her a few cards, it would lift her spirits immensely. There was a woman whom I'd never met, but happened to be a friend of my aunt, that was sending me cards from Kentucky. She would drop cards in the mail to me at random times over about 3 years.... I've still never even spoken to her except to write back, but she helped me out SO much with her sweet little notes.
My tumor is benign, but I've had 2 surgeries and radiation, and it's still going, so it may be a long road for your friend. I'll definitely be praying for her!!

God Bless!

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H.H.

answers from Fayetteville on

There are many natural things that my best friend did for her husbands brain tumor that he had removed 1.5 months ago. And because of what they did he did not have any cancer tracers in his blood and, AND!!!!! they too were told that he would have a 6 month IN BED recover and this man was release 8 days early and went home WALKING!!! He started up school right away!

Let me know if you want more details. Or maybe you could email my friend if you want

H.

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C.B.

answers from Charlotte on

In addition to expressing your love and support through cards and phone calls - you could do one of those on-line bistro (Bob and Sheri advertise one) and have some food delivered to help with the meals. I know my beloved cousin has had surgery twice (and is ok) for his tumor - I always make food that can be frozen and served as they need it. So since you can't drop it off - you can still send it.

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A.D.

answers from Austin on

Send a card or letter every couple of days with positive words and sayings. That way she will be looking forward to the next one. Maybe a small personal gift every once in a while. Because they are probably gonna have to shave her head maybe you can find one of those head warmers and send it. Anything that you can think of that she would need in a hospital: fuzzy socks or slippers, lip balm, magazines, snacks etc. But most of all just pray for her.

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R.K.

answers from Raleigh on

Go visit her as soon as you can. For now call her every day.
I have a good friend whose out of town BFF got sick and they were both so glad that she was able to visit.

R., cary.

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K.T.

answers from Lexington on

You could always send gift cards whether it be for gas since her family will be making several trips to the hospital, food since they will be eating out alot, or a calling card so she can call you when she's in the hospital.

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K.H.

answers from Huntington on

My husband was diagnosed with cancer at age 29 and we had a 3 month old infant at the time. What I/we appreciated were cards, particularly with something heart-felt written inside. I was amazed by cards from people we didn't know- church groups of co-workers or the garden club of a distant relative. There was something comforting about knowing that people were thinking and praying for us. My church group set up a block of people to bring us dinner every night for the week when my husband got out of the hospital and friends offered babysitting services when I needed to be with my husband. Some folks took up a collection to pay for my hotel when I needed to accompany my husband out of the state for surgery.

As an out of towner, check in frequently, when you call, listen for cues from your friend. (She may be tired and you don't want her to dread your calls because they wear her out). If you can afford it, dinner gift cards or flowers are always nice, but if you can't, just be there for her- don't offer advice, just listen!! And please understand that this is a time when she needs to be selfish; be the best friend you can be and expect nothing in return.

That was 5 years ago. My husband is now cancer-free and our experience is now just another phase of our live, but I can look back on it and see where what was a horrible experience was also a wonderful opportunity for our growth in all possible ways.

God bless you and your friend.

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V.R.

answers from Lexington on

Hi P.,
What about sending a basket with things that she and her family can use during her recovery? You could fill it with gift certificates from a variety of restaurants in her area so that she won't need to worry about meals for her family. You could also buy some of the lastest DVDs for her to watch while she is unable to move about freely...also, books on tape and an inexpensive CD player if she doesn't already have one. If she likes Sudoko or crosswords throw in a couple of those puzzle books. You might get her various hand grips and/or TheraPutty...even some Therabands will probably be helpful during her recovery. You can find those products on-line at physical therapy and occupational websites. You could also go to the toy area and find her some inexpensive, but fun stress balls, spikey balls and various other "stuff" to help her strengthen her hands and/or entertain her kids. DollarTree always seems to have a variety of this kind of thing in our area.

You could also contact a cleaning service and pay to have them come into her home every week or two to clean while she is recovering.

Above all I would think calling and sending her cards and little goofy "pick me up" gifts thru out her recovery are probably as helpful as anything.

I will keep you both in my prayers.
V.

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D.B.

answers from Charlotte on

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M.W.

answers from Huntington on

My good friend, and fellow midwife just had a brain tumor removed a few months ago. She did really well, I'm sure your friend will also. Her main restriction was not to lift anything over 5 lbs. She also moved slowly for a few weeks, gradually getting back up to speed. Her husband did all the cooking and housework during her recovery. When we did prenatals or a birth, I would carry her bags for her, and we would only schedule one a day, since she tired so easily.
Since you're out of state and can't be there to help her with housework and such, next best thing would be to send her some inspirational books to read or movies to watch while she recuperates. or just a pretty card or note everyday, so she can look forward to the mail, instead of just getting bills!

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K.S.

answers from Huntington on

First and foremost, prayer. In addition, encouragement...whether phone calls, cards, etc., always be positive. You might want to send her a package of items that would pass her time after the surgery and during the rehab such as encouraging books, her favorite craft, books on tape (since her vision might be temporarily affected), etc.

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J.C.

answers from Raleigh on

So sorry to hear about your friend. I would suggest something like Dream Dinners (or a similiar place) where you can get prepared meals that just need to be put in the oven so that she can feel her family is eating well even if she doesn't feel up to cooking.

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C.B.

answers from Knoxville on

I am so sorry about your friend. It will be hard to help as much as you want to but there are still things you can do. Look at your Christian book store for a little book called "What to do When you Don't Know What to Say". It has some simple practical ideas for things to do in a difficult situation. I don't know how many are applicable at a distance but still, it is a good book. You can send little care packages to the kids with inexpensive dollar store items or movies to show you care about them. There are probablr rstaurants or caterers there that will work with you from a distance to deliver a a meal. Even if it is just a pizza, if dad doesn't have to cook, it is a blessing. If you bake, you can ship some cookies. Letters would be a welcome distraction for her and you can even send "hugs" in the envelope. Most of all, stay in touch with her and be her friend. So often when someone is sick, we feel likwe we don't know what to say so we don't talk to them any more. That is a very lonely place (been there). So don't feel like you have to have beautiful words of wisdom and inspiration to talk to her, just talk. The most honest thing anybody ever said to me when my mom died is " I really have no idea what to say to you right now" and then she cried with me. That was more honest than all the forced words of wisdom from people who just felt they had to say something amazing. Most of all, pray for her!
C.

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H.M.

answers from Raleigh on

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend! Probably one of the biggest helps would be meals. You could send gift cards for pizza or other places that have meals to go (like Chili's, etc). There are also those places that have the prepared meals that you can pick up and take home to cook, that you could get a giftcard for if there's child old enough to cook, or if the dad can do the cooking. I know she lives out of state, but if you could go one weekend or something and help clean and prepare meals for the freezer, I'm sure that would be a big help. But I know your prayers are the biggest help. If she's involved in a church or other organization, you could contact them and help coordinate meals and childcare for the family. That's something that can be done by phone since you're not close by.

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M.B.

answers from Louisville on

Maybe you could watch her kids for the week after the surgery. Bring them to your house (or watch them at her house) and just plan lots of fun things to do like swimming, parks, amusement park, etc...(to get them out of the house). If money is an issue-just figure up the activities and the cost and ask for some assistance from your friend. I'm sure they wouldn't mind-plus the break from the kids will totally be worth it to them and it would help get the kids mind off of their mom. Another idea....maybe you could work it out with Honey Baked Ham or Boston Market to pay for a meal and have it delivered. Another idea...go visit for a couple days and make a bunch of meals that can be frozen, so they wont have to worry about dinner for awhile. Good Luck.

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C.H.

answers from Louisville on

My neighbor just had a serious brain tumor removed. He is young, athletic and healthy and has a wife and young son. The chances are slim, but we are all praying. One of my friends organized a dinner calender and we have all made dinner ever 2-3 nights for them. That helps more than you think and I think it just lets them know that people are thinking about them. I think prayer number #1, we saw Joel Olsteen this year and his mother had a terminal prognosis and with prayer was completely healed and is still alive and healthy 15 years later. My neighbor also made it through testicular cancer 20 years ago. Ask people around you to pray for her even if they don't know her or know her that well. I will pray for her too.

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S.D.

answers from Nashville on

Hello P.,
My 16 year old niece was diagnosed with a stage 3 astrocytoma brain tumor a year ago and was not able to have surgery. She has done radiation and is currently on a chemo regime that she has done really well on.
You can create a caringbridge site for your friend and keep in touch as well as keep all of her family and friends informed. My sister started one and there is a huge family of brain tumor people on the site. Many children and many adults.... http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/taylorgettinger
You can copy this into your browswer to see the pages. They are free and are an amazing way for people to keep in touch and find support from people all over the world...
It has been an amazing comfort for my sister, her family and many friends....we are all doing a Relay for Life Walk in August. Just be there for your friend and talk with her openly about what she is going through. Be her voice when she can't speak, and maybe the caringbridge site is a way for you to honor the path she is getting ready to walk...Take care and I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers...a very powerful force when people ban together!
Deepest Shanti, S.

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K.F.

answers from Nashville on

Just be there for her when she needs you. I helped a friend with cancer last year. I took my son and just stayed with her during the day while her husband was at work. Took her out to the store........just little things like that. She passed away but I enjoyed the last days with her. She was pretty private about the whole thing so I felt good that I was able to visit with her.

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G.G.

answers from Wheeling on

Keep Positive and upbeat when talking to her, let her know your thinking of her even although your miles away. Prayers are the least I can do.

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P.W.

answers from Wheeling on

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend and her family. It is hard to be away from someone when they are sick.

Sending her a card or an e-mail will brighten her day (especially, if it a bad one). Sometimes just knowing someone cares helps.

Also, you could send her a gift card so her husband can pick up dinner one night (find out what national chains are in her area and yours, you can buy the gift card where you live and mail it to her. with 5 kids - they probably like pizza!!) Also, I have found that most grocery stores have gift cards - that helps to buy the necessities (ie. toilet paper, paper towels, etc). Everyone seems to have a WalMart, Target, etc. near them.

I hope all goes well for your friend.

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K.S.

answers from Raleigh on

I am so sorry. Too bad you can't go for a couple of days, while she is still able to talk. I think, a gift cert to a restuarant where they could all go together would be greatly appreciated
Pictures in frames of them, if you have any. Wonderful notes to the children about their mom. Notes to her on a regular basis.

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L.J.

answers from Lexington on

Two years ago I was diagnosed with a manageable form of cancer. When people found out, they flocked to me and my family. My husband appreciated the support, but I became frustrated because everyone acted like I was going to die soon.

Remember that your friend is more than her brain tumor. She's the same person you've cared for all these years. Be there to talk with her about other things. Show her that she's more than the tumor. Send her something humorous that you know she would enjoy. Be there if she wants to talk about the brain tumor, but mostly just be there as her friend.

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K.J.

answers from Louisville on

I have not read all of your responses so please forgive me if this has already been mentioned. You may want to look into places like Dinner Done (it is a place where you can go and they have all of the ingredients to prepare meals, then you take them home and freeze them until you are ready to eat them). I know some of them have packages for new moms where they will prepare the meals and then take them to the new family so they can freeze it until they are ready to eat it. You may check and see if they have something like that where she lives and either give her a gift cert to make her own meals or see if they can do like they would for a new mom. It can be a bit pricey but it may be something to look into. Good luck and your friend and her family will be in my prayers.

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R.N.

answers from Jacksonville on

Hello, P.. I, myself have a brain tumor. I have had two craniotomies to have it removed in the past year. The first one was in April of 2007 and the second was in September of the same year. My tumor is not cancer and is very slow-growing, thankfully,it is a stage I pilocytic astrocytoma that is located in my cerebrum on my thalamus gland. There is still a small thumbnail-sized piece left on my thalamus gland. Looking back, I wish someone had been there to tell me to get a second opinion at the beginning and not just go with whatever the first neurosurgeon told my husband and I. I know that it feels like it is of the utmost importance to have the procedure done ASAP to your friend, and that may well be the case, but if I had gotten a second opinion, I would have saved myself a second brain surgery and about a million other issues that I have had to deal with and still deal with to this day because of the first surgery. I am not sure where your friend is having her procedure, but I am sure that she will be in good hands. Just tell her to hang in there, and not to be discouraged. I was not in need of rehab after my craniotomies, but lots and lots of physical therapy, maybe close to the same thing as what your friend will need. It was tough, but the more she is able to move and the more she fights, the quicker she will get back to normal. I will be thinking about her and praying for her. Good luck to you and to her. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions: [email protected]____.com. I also have mounds of more pesonal advice from personal experience with having had this brain tumor myself. I see that you have had many wonderful responses from many wonderful moms as well, and their advice is just as good as mine, but if there is a question that you feel you need to ask from personal experience perspective, I am here.

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