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My friend just emailed to tell me she has breast cancer, I'm all over the place

(42 Posts)
Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:09:51

We were best mates at school, born a day apart at the same hospital and laughed our way through school days. She moved away when she got married but we always kept in touch on our birthdays.

I sent her a joke by email today, not having spoken to her since we turned 40 back in March, and she replied tonight telling me her news of having cancer.

So, my question is, what can I do to support her? I've emailed back and I hope I've done and said the right things, it's a nightmare knowing what to say but as she is a very up front kind of person I decided not to skirt around the issue but hit it head on. I've said I'm here if she needs me but I don't know whether to send a get well card or a thinking of you card or flowers or what? I am going to call her at the weekend for a good chat and sometimes I think being there is the best thing but I would like her to know that I'm thinking of her.

Are flowers appropriate? Help me here gals.

Hassled Wed 10-Sep-08 22:17:58

I think flowers would be nice (not a get well soon card) - but it sounds like you've already said/done all the right things, tbh. I'm very sorry.

MaureenMLove Wed 10-Sep-08 22:22:20

Which friend Kbear. Initials please. Not SC?

Miaou Wed 10-Sep-08 22:22:54

sad kbear - how about a blank card in which you write some of the things you said in your email (or similar) - something bright and cheerful for her to put up or keep safe somewhere? When my aunt had cancer, I used to send her such a card every so often and my mum said she loved getting them.

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:28:12

No not SC. used to go out with Andy G but I don't think you ever met her, maybe once at the Post one night years ago. We were bessie mates at school.

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:32:29

Whatever I send seems weird and not very helpful but putting myself in her position I think I would rather people did something like send flowers rather than not IYSWIM.

I am fortunate in that I haven't had to deal with too much of this in my life and I am conscious that it needs to be handled sensitively. She is a very up front, outspoken, no holds barred kind of person (I was the quiet one in the friendship ha ha) so I think she appreciates straight talking but equally it's a big deal and I want to get it right.

MaureenMLove Wed 10-Sep-08 22:32:39

Oh dear. sad Give her a ring at the weekend and see how it goes. Maybe do what Miaou says, send a little message either on e-mail or in the post every week or so. She probably won't want to keep repeating herself on her condition to everyone, every week, but just a continuous stream of little notes, will be enough for her to know where you are. She can reply or call, as and when she wants then.

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:33:43

So a bunch of flowers...what to say on the card then? Shit, this is hard.

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:34:50

You think not flowers?

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:36:17

I feel close to her suddenly - we always made a big deal of being born a few hours apart and on the same ward and joked that our mums didn't know what was going to hit them when we grew up!

MaureenMLove Wed 10-Sep-08 22:39:08

Just do something simple for the tome being. Just say, 'thinking of you'. Once you've spoken to her, you'll have a better idea of how to play it. If you do it tomorrow, she won't get them until Friday anyway and then you can ring her. She won't be thinking, 'shit, I told Kbear and I've heard nothing.'

MaureenMLove Wed 10-Sep-08 22:40:32

Its up to you on the flowers. Like you say, what's right and what's wrong. I don't know.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:46:26

Thanks TMMJ, I appreciate your opinion on this, I truly didn't know whether flowers were appropriate or not. I always think of getting them delivered for good times, birthdays, babies etc.

Will get some sent tomorrow I think and call at the weekend. Shame we are 40 miles apart, I can't do much for her on a daily basis but she know's I'll be there like a shot if she needs me.

MaureenMLove Wed 10-Sep-08 22:46:30

I think that the key, isn't it. No matter how hard you find it, try to treat her as normal as possible.

MaureenMLove Wed 10-Sep-08 22:47:58

I've got to go to bed now. I'll ring you tomorrow, if I get 5 mins at work. If not, after tea.

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:48:45

Ok mate - night

LapinOnTheEventHorizon Wed 10-Sep-08 22:51:58

Kbear, what has she told you about the cancer, what stage is she at, are they talking mastectomy, what sort of treatment?

My mum had breast cancer recently, had a lumpectomy followed by a few months of radiotherapy and is fine now - felt a bit tired during the treatment but carried on working!

My aunt had it more severely, had a double mastectomy, chemo etc, wore a succession of jaunty wigs wink - she is also fine.

Both these women were in their SIXTIES when they had it, and they have recovered really well.

I'm not saying to brush it off and be casual, but don't immediately think "oh shit she's going to die!" My mum refuses to even admit that she was ill hmm grin and found the hardest thing people being all weepy around her.

So I would say definitely send the flowers, write something like "This is shit, but I am here for you whenever you need me" and I would let her talk about it - I know both my mum and my aunt appreciated being about to discuss it calmly and rationally.

I hope your friend recovers soon x

Niecie Wed 10-Sep-08 22:53:29

I have a similar situation with a friend who was diagnosed 5.5 yrs ago. Her husband rang the weekend before my first scan for my pregnancy with DS2. I could have sworn he was going to say my friend was expecting too as our DS1s were born 12 weeks apart. I completely understand your shock.

What can you do? I don't know. Just let her know you are thinking of her - if flowers feel right send them. I saved the cards for when she had her operation and I have stayed in touch via the phone and email since then (they don't live locally to me). I offered to visit but really when she was going through the treatment she didn't want anybody around.

She also has secondaries on her liver. Twice she has had big chunks removed. The prognosis is not good but then nobody expected her to get this far.

Treatment is improving all the time so stay positive for your friend. Try not to make it the first or only thing you ask about when you talk to her but follow her lead if she does want to talk.

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:56:02

Hi LL, she's had the lump removed and lymph nodes and starts chemo and radiotherapy next week. Had surgery within 2 weeks of diagnosis.

I did say in my email I hope that her strength of character and general sweariness will help her kick it's arse! I talked to her like she talked to me IYKWIM, she sounded upbeat so I thought why not treat her normally and say what springs to mind when I think of her (boy she can swear like a trouper!).

Kbear Wed 10-Sep-08 22:58:09

Thanks for your post too Niecie!

Right I'm emotionally drained and need to go to bed.

Thanks all

laundrylover Wed 10-Sep-08 23:10:49

Kbear, I've had two close friends go through breast cancer and come out the other side.

Chemo is the hardest part as after a few sessions you just feel shit most of the time. Radio is after chemo finshes (usually a few months) and is not so bad it seems.

One friend is local so I did stuff like drive her to hosp, call round for a chat, shave her head in my kitchen! The other friend is 250 miles away....I talked to her on the phone, told her to stop doing too much, let her cry and get cross about her DH and the kids saying she looked like an alien!

After treatment both times we went for a girly spa session and laughed about elaborate funeral plans etc.

I woud start by sending a card to let her know that you're there for whatever she wants you to do.....I'd send chocs instead of flowers too but I'm a choc in times of stress type of woman grin.


BlaDeBla Thu 11-Sep-08 10:07:07

Please hang on in there! I was diagnosed with bc last year, and some of my friends didn't want to know. Breast Cancer Care is brilliant and offer support to friends and family as well as the patient!

littlelapin Thu 11-Sep-08 10:09:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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