A friend of mine has cancer. It had to happen sooner or later, because statistically it’s likely to happen to 1 in 3 of us I think – or even more. And one of my friends has already beaten some fairly depressing statistics, being told she had terminal cancer, then a 10% chance of survival, and then somehow managing to beat it (so far). A member of my family is currently battling a form that will probably end his life in the next week or so.
Cancer is an unfair motherf***er.
My friend who has cancer now isn’t a newcomer to it. Lightning did strike twice, even though she beat it once, many years ago. And coming relatively new to our friendship, I saw her as a cancer survivor – and I didn’t even know about that until last year. I kind of imagined you got your quota of cancer and then you were done with it.
A few weeks ago she found a lump. And we told ourselves it wasn’t going to happen again… that it would be fine. She is ever the optimist, and seemed to be cheery right up until the doctor told her the cancer had come back. We couldn’t believe it. She has to have chemo for six months and as a friend I hurt for her and can’t even imagine what she’s going through.
I know she’s beaten it already. And I know she’s a strong person who knows the fight she’s up against and is going to do her damnedest to beat cancer into submission once again. But even superheroes need a pick me up every now and then.
As a friend, I know my job is to try and be there for her as much as possible, and to do stuff that I can do that will hopefully make her feel better. I feel helpless, and it’s not about me – it’s about her. I want to think of ways I can help.
She told me that some of the worst help was people saying, “Let me know what I can do to help.” And some of the best help was from a friend who told her, “I’m coming over and I’m going to fill up your freezer / tidy the house / look after you.” Now, I’m terrible at tidying and our other friend has probably cornered the market in domestic goddessing, so I’ve kind of focused more on the cheering up.
So far that’s included:
- Sending her a 6 month flower delivery to last her through this round of chemo. (Bloom & Wild)
- A gingerbread doctor to mark the first day of chemo. (Biscuiteers)
- Postcards to say I’m thinking of you. (Touchnote)
- Ceramic heart “Remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you feel and smarter than you think”. (East of India at Amazon)
- Whatsapp messages to check in on how she’s doing.
- Lending her Dog for snuggles and licks. (Well, we were away at a wedding last weekend but they often look after him. I did check whether she still wanted him and she did. I believe he has healing licks.)
- Dinner out at the pub.
- Offered to go with her to the wig appointment and provide moral support.
- A meet the meerkats experience at the zoo. (She loves meerkats!)
- Face masks from Thomas Roth. She has been advised not to go to the spa whilst undergoing chemo so we thought she could do it in her own home.
I have tried to think of things to make her feel better, and if I see something that I think she’d like, I send it to her. I still wonder if that is enough or if there’s something useful I can do as well as to cheer her up.
Whenever I’ve been ill, my go to comfort is Dog. He is the best medicine for anyone feeling ill or sad! However I’m not willing to give him to her permanently, so I’m wondering what else I can do.