Oh how I wish I never had to discuss this topic. Breast cancer is a jerk. A jerk that has invaded the lives of so many – and several close to me. I have two close friends who have fought the disease (and are both doing well today.) I remember feeling angry and helpless when I heard the diagnosis. I’ve never experienced it, so what do I know? I may not have experienced breast cancer myself, but I do know how to be a decent friend.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease, offer information and support to those affected by breast cancer and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Aflac will be partnering with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) again for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign.
Some of the tips below should help you, should you ever find yourself in this situation. (Several are things I did and others are tips that my friends gave me to share.)
1. Listen to your friend. REALLY listen to her. Find out the details she wants to share (what stage, type of cancer) and listen when she calls you with her fears and concerns.
2. Offer to run errands for her. There will be doctor appointments and the exhaustion will set in. Errands aren’t fun to begin with, so help by going to the post office or the grocery store or even making phone calls she may need help with.
3. Take her a meal. Or even take groceries for a meal. (Ask her what she feels like having.) It seems like such a small gesture, but it is so helpful when someone is not feeling up to cooking or has so much going on that cooking is the last thing they think of doing.
4. Better yet, organize the meal train. When our first son was born, a friend organized meals to be delivered through takethemameal.com and it was awesome. I was able to block out days that we didn’t need food, but I also was able to tell my friends what we liked/disliked and they checked with me on times. A friend of mine had a similar set up and since she wasn’t able to be around people (or wouldn’t be home at certain times), they left a cooler outside and friends left meals in that cooler.
5. Create a care package. I love giving packages of fun things specifically put together for the recipient. (And we all know my love for washi tape runs deep, so you better believe I’ll be decorating the package with fun tape.)
6. Help her with housekeeping. If you can’t do the physical work, cover the cost or go in on a housekeeper with some other friends. Find someone who can clean the house to your friend’s needs.
7. If she has children, offer to babysit. The kids need some normalcy and a fun afternoon, and your friend may need the break. Try to do this multiple times, not just immediately after a diagnosis.
8. Send fun notes or cards. I have a ton of stamps so I can quickly make a card for my friend. Or stock up at the store with some meaningful or funny cards meant to lift your friend’s spirit. Send them when you can. We all hate receiving bills, but I think we can agree that the holidays are the best mail time – it’s when you receive the most cards from your friends and family. Don’t wait to send a note!
9. Have a fun afternoon/evening of pampering (think manicures and pedicures.) Bring the pedicures to her. Do her nails. Chances are, she isn’t going to be able to go to a public salon. Or she may not feel like dealing with a public salon. Make it easier for her.
10. If she loses her hair, have a hair-cutting party (if she’s up for it.) Make it a celebration. Our hair and hairstyles are SUCH a big part of us. Losing it can be devastating. Bring a lot of hats and scarves for your friend. Keep it as fun as possible for her.
For many U.S. companies, fall marks open enrollment season, which means now is the time you can review your employer-sponsored benefits offerings and choose the health insurance policies that best meet your financial and health care needs. When caught early, the survival rate for breast cancer is as high as 99 percent, but the diagnosis can be accompanied by an expensive treatment regimen. Aflac’s cash benefits can help policyholders pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with costly cancer treatments.
A cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but also for extra child care that may be needed, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries. If you or a family member does end up being diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer, you want to be able to focus on recovery not finances, and a cancer insurance policy can help you do just that.
Do you know someone close to you who has fought breast cancer?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.