“I have a lump.”
I get that sentence in my text and email inboxes more than I’d like to. Not because I don’t want people to tell me… no no no… please tell me. But rather, because I so hate to see that another person has to go through the process of figuring out what that lump is.
This week I am going to focus on three things here on the blog:
- How to help a friend awaiting answers on a lump
- How to help a friend who has been diagnosed
- How to help a friend after treatment
Those are some of the most common questions I get and I wanted to put together three quick lists for reference if you are the friend.
So. Your friend has a lump or something suspicious. They’ve either scheduled an appointment or they have already had a mammogram and biopsy and are now awaiting the results. For most people, this is terrifying — specifically if they are at the biopsy part.
As a friend, you might be wondering, “How can I help?” Well. Here are 5 ways/tips that I think you, as a friend, can provide support.
- Do not mention cancer.
- I feel like enough people are mentioning cancer. I do not need to mention cancer. But if you choose to bring up cancer because that is the way your friendship rolls, seriously do not say, “Oh I knew a woman who had a lump and it was cancer and…” Because seriously. Mass hysteria could ensue. So if you’re thinking of telling stories of anyone who has had cancer — just don’t. Even if it’s a success story… it’s just not a warm fuzzy feeling. If they bring up cancer, then roll with it. If they don’t… leave it alone.
- Ask how they are feeling that day that you are talking/texting/etc
- Emotions change daily, right? Some days, the information or the thoughts feel normal. Sometimes they feel overwhelming. Asking specifics about that day makes it less cumbersome to share emotion, I think.
- Tell them you get it.
- Life can be scary. News of a possible intruder inside of our body — well — that can be debilitating. Tell them you get their fears and that they are not crazy.
- Stay off the internet.
- No need to do any research. Just be a friend to your friend. That’s what they need. They don’t need Dr. Google telling them to freak out. They are likely doing just fine with that on their own.
- Treat them like you normally do.
- Don’t feel the need to change up your banter or your normal life talk. This friend may not have a diagnosis of cancer. Or they may. But regardless, regular life goes on.
Also, people often ask what might be a good idea to take to your friend as a gift in this stage of waiting. You know your friend better than me but here are a few ideas to get your mind moving:
- Because wine.
- Calming teas and a mug.
- Jesus Calling.
- Love this book. It’s so positive and just a bit of digestible faith for each day.
- Inspirational jewelry.
- They can wear this as they wait and after!
- Mindless magazines.
- Reading about celebrities always helps take a mental break when needed.
Above all, just be the friend they already know you to be. You don’t really need to do ANYTHING outside of being there, listening, and offering a message to let them know you are thinking of them. Anything else is simply icing on the cake of your friendship!