October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are many terrific events to raise funds and awareness but what can you do when this disease hits close to home? Approximately 1 in 8 women in this country will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime so chances are, you know someone who is or has been affected by it.
When breast cancer hits close to home, one of the best ways to help is by supporting a friend or relative through her chemotherapy treatments. But what can you do to make a difference?
Help with Meals
Whether a single person or a mom keeping everyone fed is a great way to take one more worry off a loved one’s plate. Use the free website Meal Train to set up a schedule that lets friends and family sign up to deliver meals.
Buddy Up for a Chemo Treatment
Sometimes it helps to just have a friend sit with you during what can be a painful, scary and sometimes even boring process.
Pick Up the Phone
Maybe cooking a meal or attending a hospital visit is out if you live far away, so call! When you do call, make it a point to talk about normal stuff. Talking about the disease is not always required and sometimes a break is just the thing. Allow your friend the space to talk about what they feel like talking about- or clue them in on what’s going on with you. Having someone to listen, even if you can’t provide a solution, is still helpful.
Hire a Cleaning or Landscaping Service
Even in the best of times, caring for a house inside and out can be exhausting- even more so during chemotherapy. Consider hiring a local cleaning person or service for a house once-over. If the lawn needs mowing or raking, see if you can enlist some neighborhood kids to pitch in and get it done.
Laundry Never Sleeps
Another task that’s high on every to-do list is laundry… because it never ends! Next time you go over to the house, throw a load of laundry in the wash and don’t leave until it’s folded and put away. Or, if you know mom is going to be out at doctor’s appointments for the day, grab the dirty clothes that morning and return them cleaned in the evening.
Make a Chemo Go Bag
Find a cute tote bag and fill it with items that will take your friend’s mind off her illness. Crossword or sudoku books, warm socks, a cozy blanket or sweatshirt, chocolates or hard candies, adult coloring books, headphones and tissues.
Help with the Kids or Pets
Offer to drive the kids to their activities or have them over for play dates. Take the dog for a walk or help with dog or cat food shopping and litter box maintenance. Any extra time your friend has to recuperate from chemotherapy is definitely welcomed, plus it gives the kids (or pets) a change of scenery.
Send Gift Cards for Restaurants or Gas
This is an especially good item if the trek to the hospital is a long one. A gift card makes it easier to eat on-the-go without having to pack food each time or get take-out for nights when preparing dinner isn’t in the cards.
Encourage your Kids to Reach Out to Her Kids
Battling breast cancer affects the whole family, especially the kids. Suggest that your kids do something kind, like have her kids over for a play date, draw them a picture or even pick out a small gift for them. This lets them know that people are thinking about them, too.
Finally, remember that cancer can be a long battle. “A lot of people are there at the beginning of the diagnosis wanting to help, but they may quickly fade away. Remember that this is a marathon and stay with your friend throughout the process in whatever ways you can.