You worry about a friend who has been recently diagnosed. You want to show up for her and lend support, love, and positive feelings, even though you may be sad and scared yourself.
These are some effective ways to lend support and love to this person you love:
1. Homemade food the day of and 2-5 days after chemo: A group of friends can take turns to bring food to your friend. Just be sure to bring something your friend really enjoys. I don’t remember specific dietary restrictions. Towards the end of my treatment though, my stomach got a little sensitive and I had to restrict what I ate, but my husband and kids were really happy with all the nice homemade food available to them. And I was grateful to my friends for taking care of my family when I was not able to.
2. Body lotions, lip balm, and soap made of simple ingredients, without flavor or fragrance. Essential oils, even though they are natural, could flare skin or smell sensitivities that did not exist before.
3. If your loved one has kids, invite them to a movie or take them to the park so that your friend can rest a little if she thinks it’s a good idea.
4. A silk pillowcase, great for sensitive scalp and skin.
5. Lend a listening ear, without judgment or a problem-solving attitude, and only if asked. Through the ups and downs of treatment, be ready to listen to what your friend wants to share. Whether it be fears, annoyances, or engage in good old venting, don’t interrupt and don’t offer solutions to every grievance. When your friend is done talking just say “Is there anything I can do to help?”
6. Quality, carefree time: I will never thank my friends enough for acting normal around me and not bringing up the C-word during trips to the beach, gatherings, etc., unless I brought it up first. If they wanted to know how I was doing, they would call or text, and not mention anything in person, unless they were visiting after surgery, of course. I could forget about the whole thing for a while if I wanted to, and that was a nice luxury through the duration of my treatment. If you can’t get together in person, a virtual movie party could do the trick.
7. Pray, pray, pray: Pray for your friend, her health, her family, her finances, for God’s will to be done in her life. Offer to pray with her. If for any reason you can’t pray together, make a spiritual bouquet of prayers. Say a series of different prayers for your friend during a given period of time. Write down every time you pray for your friend (a Hail Mary, an Our Father, a Sunday mass, etc.). Then give her the list of prayers you said for her during that period of time. You can accompany your list with a real bouquet of fresh flowers if you want.
Make this a time of fond memories.