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Friends & Co-Workers

If you have a friend or coworker who has breast cancer, you probably want to know what you can do to help.

And you may be a little curious about what she’s going through. We applaud your desire to help, and this article includes some things you should know. But you should also know that this is a time when your friend or colleague may want to retreat somewhat from public life to battle their illness in private. We know that if, and when, that time comes, you’ll respect and understand their decision. (And we also know you’ll be there to help celebrate when they re-emerge to tackle life anew.)

10 Things You Can Do For Your Friend

Your friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer and you wonder, how can I help? What can I do? There are many things you can do for her, to make this terrifying experience a little easier for her to endure. First of all, you should be sure that she wants your help. The best way to support a friend with breast cancer is to talk to her. Show her this list and tell her you want to be there for her in as many of the ways listed below as she will allow. Let her know what you want to do, and be open to her need for privacy if she declines your offer. And if she declines, wait a while, and ask again. As her friend, you will know what she is comfortable letting you do, and what makes her uncomfortable.

Visit her at home or in the hospital with flowers, gifts, books, videos - whatever she likes to take her mind off her illness.

Offer to help with pets, bills, plants or any other concerns at her home.

Run errands or do shopping when she is undergoing treatment, and during the time that treatment has robbed her of her normal energy level.

Prepare meals that can be frozen and warmed up later. Make them in different sizes depending on her household - large sizes for when the whole family is there, smaller portions for when she feels like eating alone.

Offer your help in learning more about her disease, her prognosis, and the resources she may need to make informed medical decisions.

Rally other friends to support her when you cannot. Make sure that if she needs something, anything, that someone is available and "on-call" to help her. Make a telephone or email list and put it where she can find it.

Offer to keep a web journal or publish a weekly or monthly email to friends and family about her condition. This will keep the burden off her to explain how she feels, what treatments she is receiving and what her prognosis is to everyone who calls.

Be there for her, listen, hug, as often as she will let you.

Find local retailers for the products she will need. Before surgery, buy her a post-surgical camisole. When the time comes, go with her to a Certified Mastectomy Fitter to find the products she needs to restore her body image.

Tell her a joke - lighten the mood. Make her smile or laugh whenever you can.

Again, the most important thing you can do is ask her to let you help. Be compassionate, understanding and empathetic. Don't make her feel like an invalid; make her feel loved, surrounded, by a circle of friendship and caring.