Need Advice on Being a Good Friend to My BFF with Breast Cancer

Updated on September 06, 2009
S.H. asks from Placentia, CA
14 answers

My best friend in the whole world recently found out she has breast cancer. She is only 33 and has 4 young kids at home (the youngest was 2 days old when she found out). She is back in the hospital with an infection from her double mastectomy surgery and they needed to take one on the expanders out. She lives in another state so I can't take off and be with her and when I talked to her she sounds so depressed. I was wondering if some of you ladies have been through breast cancer and has advice on what I can do for her or if anyone has any ideas of anything I could do to lift her spirits.
Thanx in advance

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answers from Los Angeles on

If you could take some time to visit, that would be the best. If you lived closer i would suggest helping out w/ the kids.

do not send flowers. cancer treatment and flowers do not go together.

you could send her a package w/ some comfy clothes, like sweats that are a little bit more fancy than grey ones.

she will need lots of lotion while she goes through treatment, get it un scented.

head scarfs. is she a bandana girl or a silk scarf girl? or baseball hats?

you might want to wait in the head stuff until she is actually losing hair-before hand she may just get more depressed.

having home delived groceries would salso be good.

since you are far away you could see about being the one to arrange help/dinners/gift cards/childcare/housekeeping via email. If you had access to her email-or her child's school, people could contact you, and you could then set up a calender. That would take a huge load off you.

the very worse thing is when some one asks, what do you need. Please don't ask, offer specifics. she has enough in her brain. I had someone fill my soap dispensers. Seriously, it needed to be done, they looked at me like I was nuts, but, they asked, and that was all i could think of.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi S.,

I am so sorry to hear about your best friend. A couple of years ago, a very dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer as well. What I did for her was to contact all her friends and family (I got addresses from her husband and prayer group) and wrote/called them asking them to send me a card for my friend with some encouraging words as well as a picture of themselves. After I received everything, I put them together in a scrapbook so that she could read everyone's good wishes on days that she may have been feeling a little down. It seemed to go over pretty well, but I think the best way that you can help is to do exactly what you are doing and just be a friend by calling her and keeping in touch. I think a lot of people lose friends at times like this because they don't know what to say. Your friend is lucky to have you in her life. Please give her my very best for a speedy recovery.

P.S. Also, lots of "thinking of you" cards and little packages in the mail with maybe lotion, books, and other things she can do while recovering might be helpful.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The most important thing is just to be there for her - let her call you anytime day or night to talk, laugh, cry, vent or whatever she needs to do.

You could try to find a company in her area that delivers dinners and send her meals 1-2 times per week so she doesn't have to worry about feeding her family. Maybe you could talk to some of her friends in her town and see if they would take turns babysitting her kids so she can have some down time.


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answers from San Diego on

Hi S.,

I am so sorry to hear about your best friend in the whole wide world having cancer.
I have just been through my best friend in the whole wide world having cancer. My brother.

I know that I called him EVERYDAY at the same time of the day. He would look
forward to 4:00. So would I! I would send him a card with encouraging words and
encouraging scriptures. I did that every week for 7 months. It was a job looking
for just the right cards and finding them! I can't tell how much he looked forward
to those cards.

I would buy things that he might feel like eating that week and I sat with him
so that his family could go and have a break. I know that you do not live in
the same town, but maybe you could go once a month and bring something
she would love and help with the kids. I can't tell you what a difference it
made in my life and my brothers life too.

My brother and I kept journals. I think that is a good idea. You can go back
and read what a good day you had and your friend too,and have special memories.

I will keep you and your friend in my prayers. It is the only thing that sustained me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Have her join a support group... most hospitals will have one or know of one. Its real important to meet/know like people and have support, mentally and emotionally.

Also, watch for her depressed state... that is does not get into a deeper depression. I hope her spouse is understanding.... and is aware of her depression. It is also a common reaction to the circumstance.

I'm so sorry... but you are a good friend... she needs solace and a good supportive network... to lean on. Ask her, how you can help. Each person is different.

My heart goes out to you and your friend,
all the best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Stay positive with your BFF. Send her cards, pictures of you two, home made stuff from your kids etc. Treat her like you normally treat her, just with some extra attention. Maybe find out if you can have things delivered to her home such as groceries or meals. Even if she has a good support system in her home she will greatly appreciate not having to leave the house or have her hubby leave to run out & get these things. One of my girlfriends that just went thru breast cancer for the 2nd time posted a blog on - She was able to post pictures, blog, get e-mail & have a guest book. It was a great tool for everybody to stay up on her condition & how she was feeling on a regular basis. Even if she was feeling too icky to update it, her older children were able to update it for her. Listen to her when she needs to talk, cry or vent. Do your best to make her smile. It's those smiles & happy thoughts that will get her thru this!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi S.,
I'm so sorry that your friend (and you) are going through this. Two of my three best friends from high school are breast cancer survivors and I know how hard it is. One thing that another friend with breast cancer found helpful (and she was out of state) was my telling her that my other friends had survived. (One of them is now almost eleven years past her original diagnosis, the other is almost seven years past her original diagnosis.) I don't know if you know her friends there, or what your resources are, but having meals delivered, arranging rides to the hospital for treatments ... maybe sending some good chick flick DVDs. One of my friends wrote this article about talking with her children about it. She has a growing website to provide online support for people diagnosed with cancer.

Also, I was able to help my friends interpret some of the medical/scientific language and that was helpful to them.

My friends both told me that knowing how much I love them and how accepting I was of what they were feeling helped.

Good luck to both of you. Amazingly, I know quite well five cancer survivors and NONE of my close friends lost their fight with cancer. Survival rates are higher than they used to be. E.



answers from San Diego on

Not sure if anyone gave you this idea or not........if you were in the town she was in you would offer to cook or help around the house right. Sooo why not order some food for her to her house. Lasanga and salad, Chinese. Iam sure you can find a place in her area that delivers, pay by credit card and let her husband know what you are doing. What a nice suprise for her, to have 4 kids nad not to have to cook will be a blessing. Another idea is to call a cleaning agency and have them do a basic cleaning for her. That is soemthing that can be done by phone as well. You could also try and hire a babysitter, or a Chid care provider that will come in for 2 or 3 hours and do arts and crafts reading etc etc! I hope either of these helps. I am sorry that she is going through this but it is great that she has you. I am sure you can also send prayers. Take care


answers from Los Angeles on


Your post is so sad, but what a good friend you are. I recently went through a somewhat similar situation with my best friend... only in her case, her husband was dying. When it became clear that there weren't going to be any more last chances, I went to see a grief counselor who said that I should do "the easiest and the hardest thing which is to be the best 'you' you can be."

In my case, that meant to keep acting like a goofball so she could laugh a little here and there. Sure, we cried together, too. But when I gave it some deeper thought, I realized that she had a lot of support. I was just a part of it. It was important to stay true to the relationship she and I have developed over the years.

Best wishes.



answers from Las Vegas on

I am so sorry that you have to go through this. It must be hard to be so far away from your friend. My mom had breast cancer and what she wanted most was her family and friends to be around her. Is there any way that you could take time off of work and be there for her? Even for just a few days? Your presence would truly be the best gift you could give her. If you can't get there, call her often. Maybe you could send her a care package of movies to take her mind off of things.



answers from Las Vegas on

S., Iam sorry to hear about your best friend. I was in the exact same situation two years ago. My best friend and neigbor had breast cancer just shortly I moved to Nevada. Our 3 kids were the same ages and we were each others mama support system. I felt so guilty and helpless that I was unable to help her with the kids.
To tell you a little about my spirited friend, she was the type of person who handled it all and didn't like anyone to see her vulnerable..especially her kids. She was head of the PTA and Pop Warner Team mom she kept up with everything as much as she could. When she couldn't she would say in a happy voice that she was just gonna rest and then she'd get back too it. I feel she was blessed with the support the other moms gave her. She was constantly bombarded with the how are you feeling question and she hated having to repeat herself. Eventually she kept pretty much too herself and family. I would try not to bother her too much but still quietly show support. Phone calls every once in a while with idle girl chat. Groceries can be sent across state lines through schwans co. she or her husband can pick from a catalogue of healthy meals for four. and they will deliver to the door. Sending flowers anything that lets her know that she is on your mind and you wish her the best! And Pray Pray Pray the powerof prayer is sooo powerful.
The last time I saw her she came to Vegas skinny as all getout and wanted to go for a night on the town! She was never so alive. Two weeks later she passed away. She left her 3 babies with her clueless husband. My role now has changed to her 12 year old daughter (the only girl)...I've gone back home to take her school shopping. I also check up on hubby who also needs advice with the kids. Good Luck and my prayers are with you.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi S.,

I am sorry to hear of the situation. It is tough, but so many have beaten well as the depression. I am sure you want to be with her, but it can be hard with the economy the way it is and trying to keep up with your own responsibilities. The best thing I can think of is to introduce her to Susan G Komen. It is good to surround yourself with others with like difficulties. It is really uplifting. I photograph the race every year here in Vegas and I can actually feel the energy. I believe there should be something coming up soon for the fall. Some people walk, some run, and some are just simply there for the support. Maybe you can surprise her and show up for the race to be with her.



answers from Visalia on

Get her in touch with a support group in her town. Internet, or locally go to your connections and they will help you for her area.




answers from Los Angeles on

I have skimmed the other responses - all good suggestions! Please consider them in ones or sevens!
My best friend has battled (and I use that synonym on purpose) breast cancer three different times with two varities of cancer - starting at 26 years old. She is now 47 and going strong, by the way.

You being there is SO important. on the phone, in person, whatever you can manage. Call her often. Even for a few minutes. Listening, encouraging, commiserating, crying or laughing with her - just to BE there for her and not be scared away by being uncomfortable with the "big C" word will be so-o-oo good, I am sure.

a wellness or peer group/community is SO important. My friend was able to get peer support that we, her loving friends and family, could not offer because we weren't living with cancer and going through treatment. Also, she was a source of great strength and inspiration to other women in the group. I found this out some years later and was able to tell her (a new friend, breast cancer survivor, telling me of this strong amazing woman in her wellness group. . . guess who!).

I wish grace and strength for your friend and for you. There is a certain amount of grief work and 'dealing' that we (friends and family) have to cope with as well.

contact, contact, contact. That is the key, I think

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