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Friend with cancer

(27 Posts)
Flossiesmummy Mon 20-Feb-17 14:41:01

It's not really an AIBU but posting here for traffic.

Wise Mumsnetters I need your advice.

A friend of mine has been in remission from cancer for a while but recently has been diagnosed with secondary cancer. She's got to face it all again.

I want to support her as best as I can. I've offered support in many ways and said all she has to do is ask.

She is shutting me out completely at the moment. I'm fine with that as she must do whatever she needs to do to feel better. She must get through each day however she can. It makes me sad, but it's not about me. It's about her.

I guess what I'm asking is this. Should I just leave her be and let her do what she needs to do? Or should I keep offering my support?

I don't want to bother her but at the same time I don't want to be the friend that trailed off contact when the going got tough.

Thoughts most welcome.

heartisshattered Mon 20-Feb-17 14:42:38

You sound like a lovely friend.

Why don't you write her a letter letting her know how special she is to you and let her know that you'll never be far away if she wants to talk

Magzmarsh Mon 20-Feb-17 14:43:44

I would write to her. Choose a beautiful card and write from the heart about how sorry you are and that you're there whenever she needs you.

Magzmarsh Mon 20-Feb-17 14:44:01

X post smile

lonesomeandfragile Mon 20-Feb-17 14:48:44

As the others have said write her a letter. Also depending on your friendship if you know her family well enough you could always try and support them and don't forget to look after yourself too. Sorry to hear your friend is going through it again I'm currently supporting someone who has two different types of cancer and whilst your right it's not about us we still feel the pain and suffering of seeing loved ones going through the trauma of cancer and the treatment which does take its toll. flowers

DJBaggySmalls Mon 20-Feb-17 14:52:21

''Should I just leave you be and let you do what you need to do? Or should I keep offering my support?
I don't want to bother you but at the same time I don't want to be the friend that trailed off contact when the going got tough.''

Put that in a card, its perfect flowers

Flossiesmummy Mon 20-Feb-17 14:58:19

It's good to have some advice.

I wouldn't call myself an outright introvert but I am on that side of the scale and I do get socially anxious in a minor way. I don't want to be bothering her.

That's the difficulty with being British, isn't it? Nobody talks about their feelings and it's all left to guesswork.

I'm not presumptuous enough to assume I know what's going on in her head, but my inclination is that she thinks that by shutting people out she saves them the heartache. She's the sort of person to not want to be any trouble.

Therealloislane Mon 20-Feb-17 14:59:31

Is she married? Does she have children?

If so: prepare meals that just need heated up. Cottage pie, lasagne, peeled potatoes for chips, chop carrots, just prep stuff to make it easier for her family. You can just knock the back door & hand the stuff over without intruding.

If kids are school age (and you're able) could you do school pick up? Take kids to the park a run, give her some free time.

Therealloislane Mon 20-Feb-17 15:00:04

How friendly are you?

Chasingsquirrels Mon 20-Feb-17 15:00:09

Are you sure she is shutting you out, rather than just getting through things atm?
Do you have mutual friends and is she in contact with them? Are they doing anything differently?

I know DH feels that some friends haven't supported him as he might have expected they would, but equally he hasn't reached out to them either.
He had the "anything I can do to help" but often there is nothing you can do to help but just being there, ad-hoc visits, messages etc make you fell supported.

I feel a bit the same, the people who have helped most have just done so - texts saying they've cooked a casserole and can they drop some round for us. Or texts just thinking of us but saying don't need to reply if not up to it. Rather than texts saying let me know if there is anything I can do to help, or that they will be there whenever but not then following that up.
TBH I have no idea what people can do to help, they can't do the one thing we would give anything for - take his cancer away and stop him dying, and we haven't needed much in the way of practical help, although I think that is coming now.

oldstripeyNEWname1 Mon 20-Feb-17 15:02:06

Agree with pp. Write if you must, but understand and expect you might get a rebuff. From where she is, she might just see your letter in anger:' I am busy sorting my feelings out, I don't want to hear how sorry Flossiesmummy is.' Rationale not being the forefront of her mind...

When my child had cancer, what helped were the simple, consistent, small, gestures of support. One lovely friend wrote at the beginning to say she would do whatever we needed, but since it was unlikely we'd know what that was right at the start, she'd just keep in touch. So one day, if I felt like replying to one of her messages, she could come for that coffee, or bring a pint of milk, visit us in hospital tedium. Most of the time, messages were just a nice reminder a world existed beyond treatment.

People say 'what can I do?' but rarely follow it up week after week of treatment, the tedium of which she will know and dread. So if you really want to help, write to her but make it clear you are not expecting a reply. Expect/accept rejection. Be persistent with a regular simple text ' Checking in, not checking up. Just thinking of you, still happy to do whatever I can to help, Flossiesmummy x'

MTBMummy Mon 20-Feb-17 15:03:57

My mum had cancer and fell out with her best mate of 30 years towards the very end. Friend was trying to be supportive, but kept talking about the future when we knew my mum had months if not weeks left.

Be supportive, be there, but don't push too hard, a card is an excellent idea, maybe find out if she's on a special diet and make some appropriate treats or meals for her to freeze, just drop them at the door and leave preferably when you know she'll be out so she doesn't feel she has to invite you in.

Accept that there will be days she wakes up fine but by mid day feels crap, don't be upset if plans need to change.

You sound awfully considerate, huge hugs to your friend.

Therealloislane Mon 20-Feb-17 15:04:57

Chasing, my heart goes out to you.

My sister is terminal - the amount of people who message "if I can do anything" yet never do.

Her best friend makes food, crys with her, runs the hoover over etc... so when family visit we can hold her hand etc

Her friend will always be a saint in my eyes.

Chasingsquirrels Mon 20-Feb-17 15:06:13

Okay just xposted with you.
I TOTALLY get the not wanting to bother her, but I'm sure you aren't.
Can you / have you made specific offers of things which you know she'll need (kids pick up is a good one but I don't know if it's applicable).

We had people offer to take DH to appointments to make it easier - but I wanted to be at most appointments so it wouldn't have been a help (if that makes sense), but he did have some people drop him at routine treatments rather than consultant appointments etc.

Without knowing her particular family circumstances it's hard to know what specifically would help.

Chasingsquirrels Mon 20-Feb-17 15:10:35

@Therealloislane sorry about your sister. Best friends like that are invaluable. flowers

Wellitwouldbenice Mon 20-Feb-17 15:11:55

I agree with others. Send a letter and then keep sending them - don't expect a reply. A friend did this for another friend in a similar situation and she was always grateful.

mumofthemonsters808 Mon 20-Feb-17 15:17:33

It's probably a case of her getting her own head around it (if you ever really can ).She'll be experiencing a wirlwind of emotions and sometimes it's just easier to isolate yourself and only interact with those you have to, because sometimes you are in that much of a daze its hard to even speak. If I were you, I'd do as previous posters suggested and write to her, I'd then leave her to make contact, because under these circumstances it does need to be on her terms, it's all about her and not you and I say that with the utmost respect. A good friend of ours refused to see anybody and that was hard to swallow but we just had to accept his decision.

It's so hard being a friend of somebody going through this, you feel like you are being a nuisance when you are just concerned about someone's wellbeing and want to help and support them so much but all you can do is play it by ear.Id also try and engage with one of her close family members who can keep you updated. There tends to be a pecking order in terms of access and please accept your place in this. I've seen some terrible behaviour when somebody is not as important as they think to someone and it really is unnecessary behaviour for the family to handle at the worst time of their lives.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

Flossiesmummy Mon 20-Feb-17 15:41:23

I have made specific offers of help with regards to her kids, driving her places, going shopping for her etc.

Like PPs have said, it's all about her treatment and hopefully recovery at this point. Her needs are paramount.

Therealloislane Mon 20-Feb-17 15:53:35

How close friends are you Flossie? Close enough for you to just go & visit? Take food/flowers/ice-cream?

oldstripeyNEWname1 Mon 20-Feb-17 16:05:57

Just remembered something else. Be careful what card you get. My friend had to intercept cards sent to her mum because so many were 'Get well soon' or 'hope you're feeling brighter'. Not with a terminal brain tumour she won't. There was a site like Not more flowers or not another bunch of flowers that had good cards. Your friend's diagnosis might not technically be terminal but all the talk of bravery, fighting etc is really unhelpful if she doesn't feel that way.

Anyway, same friend likened it to ripples of support. Your friend can only cope with inner core-2/3 people to care for her. Their closest supporters care for them, encircling around, allowing them to drop everything non-essential to care for her. Another circle supports them. And so on. Whilst outer circles may seem a small role, each plays their part and the complete round is the strongest shape because of it.

oldstripeyNEWname1 Mon 20-Feb-17 16:08:01

Just read that back. Sorry. I don't think YOU would be that stupid OP. Just make your card stick out among others

Flossiesmummy Tue 28-Feb-17 17:47:30

Thanks to everyone for your help.

Before I could decide what to do, my friend opened up and let me in. She obviously just needed some time and headspace.

Sadly her health matters only get worse. Although it isn't nailed on yet, it appears she will not recover.

I am absolutely heartbroken.

MrsTwix Tue 28-Feb-17 18:28:48

So sorry.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Tue 28-Feb-17 18:31:26

aaaah. yes tough one, I agree with letter. along the lines of I know its a brutally hard time right now, and I respect you need space. But I am always here and I love you , and when you want me I am here.

sob sad

stopfuckingshoutingatme Tue 28-Feb-17 18:33:43

saw update. That's rough. Losing a peer is very hard, so look after yourself and my strong advice is to read up on palliative care/path forward and what to expect. Its scary, and yet....its going to happen to all of us. Its like childbirth the less scared you are, the more you can help her

what cancer is it? I am so sorry flowers

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