My BFF Just Found Out She Has Breast Cancer . . .

Updated on October 29, 2012
A.G. asks from Mansfield, TX
10 answers

We are in the early stages of gathering information and figuring things out. All we know so far is that she has a mass that is at least 5 cm that has most likely gotten into her lymph nodes and that IT IS CANCER. Ugh!!! She has a breast MRI this week so the doctors can really see how big the monster is, but the doctors are already saying that they will do chemo right away to get the mass to shrink before they try to remove it. When I say, "right away," that means most likely next week!! She just found out Thursday that this is cancer. She has been blindsided!!!

Of course, I have been studying information on the internet. Neither she or I have ever dealt with someone super close having cancer. The unknowns are overwhelming . . .

My friend is married and has a 5-year-old son (my son's BFF) and a 16-year-old step-daughter. My friend is scared and overwhelmed! (duh)

I know my job is to "be there" for her, i.e. be a listening ear, watch her son when needed, clean her house, laundry, make meals, etc. But, is there anything I wouldn't know to do or that she wouldn't think to do before she gets too tired from chemo that you could suggest? I just need guidance . . .

I would appreciate any insight you can give me as I hold her hand as she travels down this road. Thank you!!!!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers


answers from Austin on

My BFF had cancer and the first thing we did is promise that there would be no secrets about our feelings or our concerns. We agreed we would be totally honest with each other so that we could help each other get through the situation.

We had many long talks about what the plan would be in different situations while she was getting treatment.

She told me how she wanted me to help her.. Especially with specifics.

She purchased a recliner so that she could be in the living room and be comfortable in that room while recovering. She covered the chair with a blanket and kept a pillow and her favorite quilt there so she could be comfortable at any time.

We cleaned out her bedroom of un needed furniture etc... So that she could have some chairs in there for visitors and a table for her meds, magazines, iPod, iPad... Etc...

I purchased some nightgowns that she could wear when people visited.. She already owned a nice robe.

I set up a site through so that we could post updates, request help, and people could leave her messages. I could post and everyone got info at once and she did not have to fool with it.

At one point she decided she wanted to see an acupuncturist, so we set up a transportation list.

We had people signup to drive her to her different medical treatments.
Meals delivered, groceries purchased... The site was the best thing we set up... It kept all of this organized and we did not have to worry with all of the emails and phone calls disturbing my friend.

We also were honest with the worst case scenario and promised not to be afraid to talk about if it became necessary...

I was able to help spread the word for her, because she wanted all of her own energy to be positive and focused on healing and on her family....

This is a time for all of you to come together, to stay positive to ask questions of her doctors and to request any help that is available...

The amercan cancer society is great, Livestrong was awesome, and your local BreastCancer organization should be contacted so they can also advise and answer questions...

Hang n there. Take care of yourself also..

Make sure her husband has support. He is also in shock and scared to death for her.. Many men when frightened become stressed and angry and frustrated that they cannot solve this. Have your friend give him direct instructions make sure accompanies her to all meetings with her doctor so he can take notes and have her really depend on him, he will want and need to know he is helping her every day.

While going through chemo she will get some chemo brain.. It is what happens while in treatment. She will become forgetful and sometimes just lose her train of thoughts.. So make sure at all of her appt. someone is taking notes.. And also any questions she and you all have can be read to the doctors.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Laurie has wonderful ideas, as a survivor myself I think she covered all the bases! Food will be a huge issue, hard to eat due to nausea but vital to keep her strength up. Make sure she's eating with whatever strikes her fancy and provide her with lots of nibbles (grapes and watermelon were hood, potatoes!!!). Books, magazines, iPad wih movies-- chemo can be an all day affair of boredom and discomfort. Funny ones-- keep her laughing. Once chemo is scheduled, take her wig, hat and scarf shopping. Best to go before she loses hair (although it depends on the drugs). if she does, make sure she is in now with a good hairstylist who can help her cut and then shave it, and maintain a wig if she chooses one.
And another idea for keeping in touch is
Good luck to you both, you can get through this together!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I've had two friends in the last 2 years go through breast cancer, and my mom has battled ovarian cancer for 7+ years and my SIL was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 9 months ago. This is what I can tell you - no one - not even the best doctors can tell you the outcome. But they can tell you the type of cancer and you can do research - if you want to. WArning though - you can make yourself crazy doing online research - since there's always someone going through it very easily (my SIL's cancer has responded wonderfully to the chemo and she's had very few side-effects) and someone else having every side effect (one of my friends with breast cancer has had every side effect of the chemo & radiation, was hospitalized for 3+ weeks due to the chemo and it hasn't been that effective). Some cancers are VERY aggressive and others aren't at all. The doc can tell after the pathology results are returned. But they are rarely bluntly honest unless you insist that they be. Hope does help someone survive longer and so the docs don't want to be the one who tells the person it's futuile and see them give up.

BUT - many many many times the cancer is not agressive and can be cured. My mom was supposed to be dead 2 years ago according to the doctors (and she's not). My girlfriend who had double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery 18 months ago is doing marveslously and has no trace of cancer in her body.

The big thing you can do as a friend is to be encouraging when she's down, pray with her when she's scared, take her child to the playground or for the afternoon when she feels crappy from the chemo, make meals that her husband can easily heat up when he gets home, clean a room while you're there - change sheets, make beds, clean out the fridge, etc. Offer to take her son even when her husband's home - spouses can get very overwhelmed emotionally & physically and they get no down time themselves. A rested husband can be a huge thing for a sick woman. The effects of chemo and radiation are cumulative so side effects are worse after the 4th round than after the first. It can be a long journey. She may want to play with her son in the living room but feel really yucky - so encourage her to lay on the couch while you play with her son (& yours) on the floor next to her, including her in the play - while you take the active role. She may need soemone to accomany her to the doctors office if her husband gets tied up at work, drive her back & forth to chemo, etc. If she knows you're there and can step in at a moment's notice that's worth everything.
Have a best friend to be there whenever it's needed is the best gift you can give her. I've seen so much cancer around me - I've seen patients completely defy doctor's expections and survive, and I've seen people decline extremely fast. It's such a roller coaster as there are triumphs & small victories and there are days of bad news. Haivng soemone to talk to, to share fears and celebrations is vital. The thing all cancer patients have had in common is the need to have supportive loving people around them. You go girl. I will pray for your friend and you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My heart breaks for your friend and for you also. It has been exactly a year since my diagnosis. Finding out you have BC is beyond surreal and an experience that you cannot even imagine unless you have gone through it. If you and she have not found this site please go to it. It is without a doubt the best site for BC on the web and the most supportive group of women you will ever find. Here is their post on tips for chemo to get you started. There is also a section for caregivers and friends that you should check out yourself.
I am so glad that your friend has someone like you to be there for her. She will sadly LOSE at least a few friends over this because many are not strong enough to "know what to say". One of my biggest disappointments was that people who I thought were friends of mine never once even asked how I was.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

There is an organization called Cleaning for a Reason - its a non profit organization that partners with maid services to professionally clean the house of women in treatment for cancer. Please check and apply there for her. She may get her house cleaned for free.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

My Mil lived with us for several months when she was mid way though cancer. A pill of those HUGE ones to really organize. My Mil ended up using a really nice walker. Hers was red and had a seat with a wire basket under it to hold her purse. It wanst the ugly grey one. She could also sit in it. I dont remember if she could also be wheeled or we just stoped and rested. She might need a wheel chair also. Then there is the potty chair and shower chair. These things you might be able to find used (nice walker or wheel chair). If it is terminal then look into Hospice and see what advice they have. I bet they have advice for not terminal cancer patiences too.

Make runs for her. Call her durring the day and ask what she is craving. My mil as well as my bff mom (who died a month before my own mil) both hated a food one day and loved it the other. My bff asked me to make a cookie run for her. I regret not going for them. Although she could have gone I still regret it (busy time for work, i was 7 mo. pregnant and dealing with my own mil cancer and husband and life).

Even though one day they will gulp down a huge milk shake the next day its like posion to them? They are repulsed by it. Warm shoes (it might be meds it might be weight loss. Cancer paticents seem to get cold quickly.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Prayers for your friend! She is lucky to have a great, supportive friend like you! I would just ask her day-to-day what she needs. Tell her up front that you're going to be in pretty constant communication and that you're not taking no for an answer!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I have a sister who had breast cancer with only radiation, not the lump type of cancer, a sister in law with breast cancer and hers was the lump and she had lymph nodes removed. Both are doing well now after some years. My aunt had breast cancer with the lump and she died as it came back in her spine. She was older and maybe care has improved. I think it depends on the treatment and the person as to how much help your friend will need. My sister and sister in law continued to work while being treated and I think their attitude helped much in their cases. Just be there and see how she responds. Ask her what she'd like you to do to help and then fill in where you can without her asking. I'm sorry to hear about it but she may be fine if they take the nodes out, or she may not but be there either way. If you are a Believer you could pray with her and for her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I hate to hear this. I was in her shoes 3 years ago. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 5th, 2009 and had a double mastectomy on January 7th, 2010 (from the time I found the lump to the time of surgery was 5 weeks). I went on to have 6 months of chemo. The whole thing is so totally overwhelming. I agree with the poster that suggested the organization called "Cleaning for a Reason". I didn't use them (we were able to afford a maid service and I didn't like using resources like that if we didn't need to). You will have to get online EARLY to register her for that service. They only take so many applications every week and it fills up within hours.

I am happy to talk to your friend over the phone and help her in any way I can. It's all pretty fresh in my mind and I know that each person is different, but it's easier to let her ask questions than to try to think of everything to type out here. If she would like to talk to someone who's been there, just PM me and I'll get you my number. I met someone on this board when I was going through it (completely randomly) and we became friends, met for lunch often and she really helped me know what to expect since she was about a month ahead of me in the process.

There are a couple of websites that are helpful in times like this. will allow her (or you) to write updates about her treatment and such so that she doesn't have to field a thousand phone calls reiterating the same information. As for coordinating meals, rides, childcare, etc....there are a couple of sites out there for that, too. One of them is That one is mainly for meals. If you want to be able to coordinate multiple things in one place, try

Again, it's hard to know where to start and it's easier to let the conversation go wherever her mind is leading her, so I will be praying for her and her family and feel free to reach out to me if she wants. God bless you for helping her. I would never have made it through my experience without the help of my friends and church family. We lived thousands of miles from any family at the time and they came as much as they could, but couldn't stay for the year and a half it took me to complete my journey.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Stay off the Internet first of all. It gives you the worse case scenario. The chemo today is much better than years ago. Lots of drugs to prevent side effects. I have known many teachers who had breast cancer. Chemo Friday afternoon back in class Friday. Be there for her. Just do the best you van. Prayers and hugs.

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions