Your friend. Your friend, in your mind and eyes, is an inspiration. A fighter. A rock star. A bad ass. A warrior. Your friend just completed treatment for breast cancer.
Your friend underwent surgical procedures. Or chemotherapy. Or hormone therapy. Or radiation. Maybe some of it, one of it, or all of it. Your friend went through some really hard stuff. And you had to be on the outside of them, watching it.
And now. It’s over! Yay! He or she has rung the gong or reached the 6-month-post-surgery mark. Perhaps they have completed 30 rounds of radiation. Regardless of what the treatment plan was, your friend has completed it.
And now, cancer is gone?
Cancer is gone!
Cancer is gone.
Your friend is cancer-free? In remission? No evidence of disease?
Errrrrrrm. What is the story? What is the lingo?
And what do you do now? They’re done! Life goes on. That part is over.
But man. It really isn’t. In fact, personally, when I completed treatment… when I was at the “light” at the end of the tunnel of treatment… well jeezaloo. It was weird. Like weirddddddd.
So how do you talk to a friend who just completed treatment? What do you say? What can you do for them?
5 quick tips for helping a friend who just completed breast cancer treatment:
- Wine. Because some people didn’t get a chance to sip wine or margs or brews during treatment. So wine is a great little offering… and bringing yourself with it, to chat it up… well that’s perfect.
- Pictures. Something I think is a great offering for someone who just got through treatment is making sure when you are together, you take a picture together. As hair begins to grow back. As the unsettled may start to find a way to settle. Snap a pic of this new place that they’re in and print it out at Walgreens and stick it in the mail or drop by with it. Pictures are worth a thousand words.
- Ask them how they are feeling that day. Same song. Different verse. Life changes and then stays the same, ya know? So please, just treat each day as its own and if you are talking to this friend, just ask how he/she is feeling that day or how they are coping. Ask how they are feeling post-treatment and know that they might have anxiety because they are all done and have now been thrown back out to the world with all the people who have been living normal lives. Ask them how they define their current title: cancer-free? Remission? NED? Human? Ask them how they see it because every doctor defines post-treatment differently. Especially in the first five years post-treatment.
- Offer them a chance to nap. When you complete any part of treatment, you are so tired. EXHAUSTED. Similar to the crib-lag that happens after you have a babe… even once you are done with the part that makes you the most tired, you don’t automatically catch up on sleep. If your friend has kiddos, offering some downtime for them is PRICELESS.
- Offer up a chance for pampering. Getting your hair back is wonderful. And it’s also bizarre. And you aren’t going through treatment but you still don’t look like how you remembered you, ya know? So. Offering any opportunities for feeling a little pampered is never a bad thing.
If you are the praying type, pray for your friend as they embark on a world post-canceropalyse. Tell them you love them. And know that while you may think they are warriors, and strong, they likely, feel that tenfold about you because you stuck it out next to them in a time where you could have just packed your bags and left.
I’ve said it a million times over but I think that God gives us friends and connections because life is not meant to be done in solitude. It is meant as a means to connect, support, walk beside, and love one another… through it all. And breast cancer is no exception.