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To ask how to help my friend through chemo

(40 Posts)
emsells Sun 15-Oct-17 00:58:44

A really good friend has just been diagnosed with cancer and will be starting a 6 month chemo treatment. I live over 6 hours away but want to support her in anyway I can.

I obviously will be calling her and being an ear but I was also thinking of getting a little box of bits for her like nice treats to eat, magazines for when she is in hospital, meal vouchers if her and DH don't want to cook - that sort of thing.

Do you think it would be a good idea or just a bit weird? I really want to help but not sure what to do. sad

Goodasgoldilox Sun 15-Oct-17 01:00:08

So sorry to hear about your friend.
The box sounds a lovely idea.

ReasonableLlama Sun 15-Oct-17 01:03:37

Not weird at all.

What sort of food vouchers? I don’t know anyone who’s gone through chemo except my best friends dad and eating out was the last thing he wanted to do.

What about home comforts? If it was me I would appreciate a nice set of PJs, a nice cosy blanket, a good set of pillows or duvet covers or maybe a DVD box set.

I’m shit at present giving and not been through chemo but I could imagine what’s what I would appreciate.

Or what about a monthly subscription for flowers or toiletries or a magazine?

Blahblahboo Sun 15-Oct-17 01:09:34

If you want to help may I suggest some cbd oil or paste. Apparently it really helps cut down on nausea aswel asboost healthy cell regeneration. Also encourage her to cut back on sugar as cancer feeds on it and makes it stronger. Honestly I dont understand why they suggest a high sugar diet.
I've done research on natural supplements before and it's what I found out. The rest ifound out researching intermittent fasting.

Blahblahboo Sun 15-Oct-17 01:13:10

As for entertainment, maybe a fully loaded kindle and some nice sugar free wine substitute and sweets.
Sainsbury's do gorgeous bars of chocolate.

AlexaAmbidextra Sun 15-Oct-17 05:42:56

Oh fuck off about sugar feeding cancer. What does your 'research' consist of? Clinical trials or simply reading unauthenticated internet sites?

Bobbiepin Sun 15-Oct-17 05:51:01

Don't bother with food related gifts, meal vouchers for something like cook are a nice idea but chemo does a number on your taste buds and its likely she'll be on toast and anything that doesn't taste like ash for a while.

Have a look at notanotherbunchofflowers they do very useful and comforting chemo gifts, either as a one off present or you can book in for her to receive something to coincide with every treatment. The whole thing is run by people who've survived chemo so they know what's good! I hope your friend has a speedy recovery, its a lovely thought what you're doing.

CiderwithBuda Sun 15-Oct-17 05:51:23

There is a lovely website called "NotAnotherBunchOfFlowers" that has some nice things. Set up by someone who went through cancer treatment herself.

A friend is going through chemo and I sent her some nice hand cream and a box of their Queasy Drops. She is avoiding sugar and has been told not to have flowers. I'm just about to send her a book. A nice easy read. It's hard to know what to send but I just want her to know I'm thinking of her etc.

SquatBetty Sun 15-Oct-17 06:05:44

Please read this - it explains the sugar and cancer link very well and it's nowhere near as simple as the dumbarse explanation of 'sugar feeds cancer'

Hairydilemma Sun 15-Oct-17 06:07:04

I bought my friend a little bag of presents when she started chemo - some little hand creams, lip balm, a magazine, tin of sweets. I like your idea of vouchers too.

CuppaSarah Sun 15-Oct-17 06:08:15

What about a netflix subscription? I know when I'm sick watching familiar tv shows over and over is therapeutic and when she's feeling awful and stuck in bed it might help her out.

shakingmyhead1 Sun 15-Oct-17 06:18:07

the chemo will make her tired and grumpy ( and most likely bloated) so a cleaner for a hour a week might be awesome,
when mum did chemo it was once every 3 weeks,
what was helpful was a couple of friends, ( weirdly not her best friends but more acquaintances or wives of step dads friends) came around in chemo week and made her small portions of food, like a 1/2 cup of food, ( things like minestrone soup, fresh fruit salad, tiny pottles of rice salad, tiny fish cakes, mini muffins or cupcakes, tiny savories etc just all in really tiny portions or 1/2 C or less) and we made her eat 5 times a day, ( she was so sick)
and other friends came around and would do the laundry or vacuum, bathroom clean, kitchen clean or get some firewood etc in for us, just small things, short visits, but always helpful visits,
some gave her fancy crafting or gardening magazines, skin moisturizers, others gave her weird Chinese herbal medicines/ herbal medicines. She tried it all
And this was really sweet, her hair dresser gave her some special shampoo and condition designed to help protect your hair or new hair growth in mums case, was very $$ and her dentist gave her some special toothpaste as chemo can mess those up too ( its a bitch)
Being so far away it might be hard to do that but you might be able to have things delivered. Not sure on flowers and fancy candles and stuff that smells, with mum everything made her sick ( during chemo week, sounds different to your friends chemo plan though) so maybe check how bad it is effecting her before sending anything that might make her feel worse
( she wont know what effects she will suffer until her first session and things she once loved might turn her stomach for a few days)

emsells Sun 15-Oct-17 07:54:04

Thank you so much for all the ideas! Really appreciate it. I'll go on NotAnothetBunchOfFlowers today. Plus I think the cleaner idea is great. I'll also go get some nice toiletries too. Thanks again wise mumsnetters.

Headofthehive55 Sun 15-Oct-17 07:54:40

I appreciated lots of messages especially around the worst days.
A cleaner is a good idea.
And lots of news. I didn't go out so didn't have news so hearing about others really was interesting for me.

Headofthehive55 Sun 15-Oct-17 07:55:26

Si couldn't watch a film or read a book as I couldn't concentrate enough.

shakingmyhead1 Sun 15-Oct-17 08:53:03

lots of cleaning wipes for the toilet,
as the chemo is toxic going in and coming out they normally advise the toilet be flushed twice and then given a clean to avoid anyone getting any on their skin and the wipes make it easier when you feel shit!
( that's what they told us here in NZ so the wipes made it easy for mum to give it a wipe after she had been, she wouldn't let us near it until she had done it even when we offered to do it for her)

And keep all talk positive, with mum we were given the outlook of 2 months without treatment and maybe a year with, ( her breast lump was the size of an egg when she was finely taken seriously and breast taken off 6 days later) and never spoke of her dying, only her being well again ( other than hers and our first week of shock that is) we even told the doctor to stop telling us that the cancer will kill her every time we seen him, that we only wanted positive outcome talk, we don't know what worked but something did and shes still going, might have been the extremely aggressive treatments, could have been the Chinese herbal stuff, or the western hippy herbal remedies or maybe the hope and positivity, who knows but something worked so anything you can do to keep hope alive is a good thing... NO thinking what if!

FallenMadonnawiththeBadBoobies Sun 15-Oct-17 10:23:39

This time last year, I was going through what's known as "dose dense" chemo - every two weeks. It was pretty grim.

Here's a couple of dos and don'ts - not just from me, but widely supported on the breast cancer forums I'm involved in. I don't want to fall out with anyone who has already posted - this is just from my experience.

I can see how positive talk may be okay for some, but for many, including me, people saying everything will be okay without knowing the facts, and saying they know of other women with breast cancer who survived the ordeal, is somewhat irritating. I have an aggressive form of BC, with a high risk of recurrence, and I have done my own research. These comments tend to belittle the patient's experience, underestimate their intelligence and prevent discussions which those with cancer might want to have with those close to them. I suspect, in some instances, it's more for the benefit of others, not the patient. I needed to talk to people about my fears, so I suggest taking your cue from your friend. Luckily, no-one close to me adopted that approach, although everyone still managed to be encouraging and upbeat. Friends being prepared to talk about difficult issues was one of the most important things for me during active treatment, and still is.

Please don't pass on shite about rejecting conventional medicine and "Big Pharma" and/or that if you'd only eat healthily all will be well. I'm afraid the avoiding sugar falls into this. We all know that stuffing yourself with sweet things is not good for us, whether we have cancer or not. We all know that eating lots of vegetables is good for us. But, dear God, there is a minefield of contradicting information out there which causes all sorts of stress about what to eat and what to avoid. All carbohydrates turn into sugar. Yes, cancer cells feed off sugar, but so do all our other cells. When you are going through chemo, believe me, you have to eat what you can to get through it. Let her eat cake!! She can eat more vegetables later.

As to what to buy, you've had some good suggestions already. A Readly subscription would be top of my list - that's if she has an iPad or similar. Absolutely brilliant. Lots of magazines at your fingertips.

Skin problems are common. I found scented body oils really useful and absolutely lovely to use. I highly recommend the Tropic brand.

Some types of chemo cause issues with fingernails. Some say using very dark nail varnish - dark blue or purple - helps. I couldn't be bothered with painting my nails. I used a product called evonail and I didn't lose and finger or toenails.

If she's likely to lose her hair, hats, scarves etc are a lovely gift, as it's nice to ring the changes. I had a wig, but found it hot and uncomfortable to wear. I really liked experimenting with headgear.

If she's like;y to lose her eyelashes, eyeliner is useful.

You sound like a very good friend, OP. I wish your friend the very best. Suggest she seeks out Internet forums, as she will find lots of help and support there.

NoKidsTwoCats Sun 15-Oct-17 10:24:08

Try these guys:

They're a lovely little charity that offers 'pamper' services aimed to help women cope with the visible effects of chemo eg hair loss. Might be nice to see if you can organise something through them? 😊

CMOTDibbler Sun 15-Oct-17 11:09:34

One thing to remember is that treatment is a long haul, and though many people will send gifts etc at the beginning, people drop off through the weeks and months. So send little things every couple of weeks - nice handcream, sharp tasting boiled sweets, a Starbucks/Costa gift card if theres one near/in the hospital, gift card for Waitrose/M&S (again, depends what is accessible, or they prefer to be able to pick up easy food), a magazine, a postcard you think will make her laugh, fluffy socks - see how she's feeling and vary it. But most of all, stay in contact with a text when she's having chemo or an appointment

HolidayHelpPlease Sun 15-Oct-17 11:10:25

Totally random one but popsicles... totally random flavours, and a pretty ice box for them. Chemo gives you mouth ulcers so these can soothe. I love the cleaner idea, would do vouchers for deliveroo/just eat so she can get what she wants (chemo screws with your taste buds). Otherwise magazine subscriptions? You schedule, so that she can call an ask you to visit and not feel a burden?

Also if she has a filthy sense of humour Love Layla do some lovely ‘fuck off cancer, it’s got no chance against you’ cards
You’re a wonderful friend flowers

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 15-Oct-17 11:37:08

This is DH's list

Box sets
Warm blanket
Ginger sweets
Ginger beer/ale ( ginger really helped with the feeling of sickness)
Ready meals for one, if she doesn't t feel like eating but her DH/DP does then it's easy to put something in the oven

Does she have children?

Sn0tnose Sun 15-Oct-17 11:41:47

When my DM had chemo, she found it left a really metallic taste in her mouth and sherbet lemons were one of the only things sharp enough to disguise the taste. She went through bag loads of them.

Bobbiepin Sun 15-Oct-17 12:51:14

@fallenmadonna that's really sound advice, you sound lile you've got your head screwed on right. All the best for your treatment flowers

Ewanwhosearmy Sun 15-Oct-17 13:21:48

I am an avid reader but completely stopped during chemo. I didn't have the capacity or concentration to read anything longer than a few words. Same with films. I second someone else's Netflix suggestion. Well-known old box-sets are much easier to watch than new programmes.

As for food, go here. I didn't find these until after I'd finished chemo, but they have some fabulous recipes.

Soft gloves and thick socks are another thing she'll appreciate, especially having treatment during the winter. If she gets neuropathy in her fingers and toes she will need to keep them warm. Foot lotion with a warming effect is useful, and perhaps one of those microwaveable hot water bottles, or hand-warmers.

emsells Sun 15-Oct-17 15:22:56

Thanks everyone I really appreciate your practical advice. I'll be off out to buy cosy socks this week and the toiletries items you've suggested. In the mean time I'll send a JustEat voucher. I think the idea of sending bits regularly is great. I'm going to send her something small once a fortnight, so she knows she's not forgotten. Thank you flowers

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