October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and according to breastcancer.org, in 2019 an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. Those numbers are staggering, and yet I never knew those figures until the day one of my best friends called to tell me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. One of my longest friendships and a person who has walked with me through every sort of season. My friend Erin is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, school counselor, friend, and now one of those statistics.
Six months have passed since her initial diagnosis and I still find myself thinking how could it be possible that someone in my life could be touched by this terrible illness? Even though I wish I could take away her diagnosis, surgeries, and chemo – I know I can’t. The best I can do is offer help in any way, shape, or form that I possibly can during this time in her life. If you can’t fix the problem, offer a meal right?
Since the day of her diagnosis in April, friends, family, and coworkers have rallied around her and her family. It has been incredible to see how something so terrible as a breast cancer diagnosis has brought together so many different people all because we love this girl so much. It has been a privilege to be a part of Erin’s support system and to see the beauty that is community in action.
Ways to Help A Friend with Breast Cancer
Before her first major procedure this summer a group of close friends helped host a beautiful night celebrating all that our friend Erin is to us. It wasn’t a sad event in the least, but a time to enjoy the company of each other, eat good food, and most of all appreciate Erin and shower her with support before undergoing the first step in the journey to overcoming cancer. All of the hostesses contributed to a gift filled with supplies she would need as she recovered over the summer like cozy button down pajamas, wedge pillow, and a Dry Bar gift card.
I recently asked my friend Erin what has been the most helpful during the last 6 months and I wanted to share in case you have a friend or family member in the same situation.
I typically think of care calendars as a tool for providing meals for new moms. Instead of only providing food for a family in need, create a care calendar that includes appointments for yard work, home maintenance, babysitting, dog walking, and even laundry. Every little bit goes a long way!
How are you doing today?
If you are about to head out the door to the grocery store or Target – send a quick text to your friend and ask if they need anything. Do they need a gallon of milk? Something they forgot at the store the last time they went? Or just a little happy surprise on their doorstep? If you are making dinner one night, double the batch and drop off one for their freezer. Or simply send the periodic text asking how they are truly doing and give them the space and time to listen to what they have to say.
My friend has the cutest little two-year-old girl and she said that help with daycare pick-up and drop-off has been life giving. Also friends offering playdates and otherwise keeping life as normal as possible for their little one has been such a gift! Giving both my friend and her husband time off from the daily grind of parenting while dealing with such heavy life circumstances can be a truly needed break.
Even though care calendars, grocery runs, and extra hands for childcare have been immeasurably helpful, my friend said that the number one thing her friends can do to help is to give themselves regular routine breast examinations. Since her diagnosis she has inspired the women in her life to check themselves and get help if they find something suspicious.
I hope that these tips are useful to you or someone in your life. This October I urge you to take care of yourself, do routine breast examinations and speak to the women in your life about being proactive in their health.The first step in beating breast cancer is helping each other and keeping one another accountable.