My Best Friend was just told that she has Stage 2A Breast Cancer. I know that it is treatable and they are making sure that it has not spread to other parts of her body. I just need to know how I can be supportive without looking like or giving her the impression that I feel sorry for her. Please help me how how I be what I need to be for her. What I can expect after the surgery and when she does Chemo how can I help what I can do?
It is terrible news for your friend, but she will get through it with everyone's support. Last March aged 39 I was diagnoised with Stage 1 BC. Thankfully my nodes were clear. The first thing your friend is going through is shock and I really mean it when it knocks you sides ways. Everyone copes with the shock differently and some people bounce back quicker. I have two young children, so I had to accept and get on with it very quickly.
Let me tell you how my friends helped me. Firstly I did not want them to start treating me as "Annette with breast cancer" and in fairness to them, they did not, but I was rarely allowed pay for the drinks or meals out. At first I objected, but then accepted gratefully because my friends needed to feel that they were doing something proactive for me. When I met my friends, I only allowed 15 mins Breast Cancer talk time unless I wanted to speak more, then we would change on to the gossip and other daily happens in our lives. So while I was with my friends I nearly forgot that I had breast cancer. We had so many wonderful nights out and lunches. I guess what I am saying is that they took the lead from me. My family treated me like normal, no fuss, just support. That was the way I wanted it. However I do sometimes think my friends and family should have been firmer with me for overdoing things, but I am just so stubborn. I tried to be super women and not ask for help. I only had to call for my Mam's help twice during all my treatment, the day I was diagnoised and then one full day during chemo when all the family got the vomiting and diahhorea bug (oh that was lovely!). In hindsight, I should have taken more time to rest and relax.
I do not know what your friends situation is, but like BhumikaMD said, see if she wants company on her hospital visits. You know your friend best, so just read the signals. It will be important to put time aside to speak about the Breast Cancer and Treatments, but please do make sure time is put aside for fun and normal things. Try to carry on doing the things with your friend that you always have, depending on how she is feeling.
Chemo is tough but doable. What can be very upsetting is loosing your hair, so it would be a good idea to go looking for wigs and head coverings with it and maybe also go to the hairdresser with her when getting her hair cut very short or shaved.
Empathise with her, but please don't pity her, it will be the last thing she wants to see in your eyes. She is number 1 now and you need to focus on being strong and getting her through the very tough time ahead. I'm afraid your feelings need to be put to the background. However you do need to off load your emotions and feelings but I would suggest that you do that with another friends. I was so focussed on my treatment and staying positive, that I could not listen or support my husbands feeling too much. I told him he needed to get a support network outside of me for during this time, which he did, his sisters.
Let her cry when she needs to...make her laugh whenever you can. Listen to her...I mean really listen....as suggested above, offer to go with her to the doctor or to the test or whatever. Make sure that she makes time for herself...she may fight this, but it is critical...take her out to eat or bring food to her. Especially important during chemo...she will be tired and nauseous and miserable and will not want to cook. Send her cards once a week or so...something to make her smile...or just to let her know you are thinking of her. Don't spout platitudes...she isn't going to want to hear them...not yet. I think the suggestion of going with her to get her hair shaved off before it falls out is stellar. My daughter went with me...we tried on wigs together (even though I had picked mine out earlier) and laughed and then she took me straight out to lunch at a crowded restaurant so that I would see that people didn't stare. Losing our hair is very very traumatic...that upset me more than the cancer did.
Get her to go places with you when she is feeling good...nothing major, just something to get her out of the house.
Do some of her housecleaning...vacuuming, laundry, changing linens.
If she has kids, spend some time with them so she had time to herself without worrying about them
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