How do I help a faraway friend?

When a friend who lives far away is diagnosed with cancer, it can be hard to know what to do to help.  The options of dropping by with goodies or taking the kids for an afternoon aren’t possible, and the distance can seem formidable.  Distance is relative, though, and since a person with cancer is likely spending more time at the hospital and recovering at home, she probably isn’t getting out as much as she used to anyway.  So my advice is:  don’t be afraid of intruding on her “daily life.”  Get in there and give her a call when you feel like it, and send her emails just to let her know that you’re thinking of her.  Add a funny card, a book you’ve enjoyed, or a small talisman that you’ve created for a surprise in the mail every now and then. 

But the most important part is the note.  Tell her you’re thinking of her.  Tell her you’re pulling for her.  Tell her that she is strong and is doing great.  Tell her that she is a survivor.  For she is.  Every day that she is here, she is a survivor

My guess is that your friend will appreciate the occasional call/email/note more than you can know.  She may not get back to you right away if she’s in treatment, as it absolutely saps a patient’s energy, but she will feel the love, and it will help her get stronger.  Which is where she needs to be.  Stronger every day.

For more ideas, check out the archive on How To Help a Friend


14 Responses to How do I help a faraway friend?

  1. Mama DB says:

    I just found out last week I have a long distance friend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and she’s just started chemo. Thanks. This really helps.

  2. juliepippert says:

    Thanks for this. 🙂

    Using My Words

  3. whymommy says:

    I wish it were more … but I’ve got a baby with 102′ fever this weekend, and the Christmas chaos … hopefully I’ll be back to writing more this week. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. giftofgreen says:

    Hello. I’m pulling for you. I’m thinking of you. You are strong, even when you aren’t really feeling strong. Wishing you even more days of unbelievable lightness. — Amy

  5. Lesley says:

    Thank you for all your ideas and information. Also, thank you for putting your heart out there. I HAVE been reading and truly what you have shared is wonderful. (just bad about commenting)

    i know its hard. I have been calling my friend and am going in January for her second chemo.

    take care and pulling for you.

    xoxo, Julie’s sister, Lesley

  6. Jacquie says:

    This post hit home. One of BFF was dx this summer with leukemia. I happened to be visiting when it was found. Leaving was tough, but I stalked her by phone constantly.

    It was nice to here from her DH how much she looked forward to my calls. That I hadn’t given up on her.

    She is now in remission, and I still stalk her.

    Thank you for this post as a reminder it was ok to call constantly.

  7. Carrie says:

    Thank you, WhyMommy.

    A call is a gift from a friend, no matter what you’re going through.

  8. killerboob says:

    been gone for the holidays and have just a moment’s computer use. i’ve checked in to see how you are and although not completely caught up with the posts i see that you will be having a very happy and chemo free new year’s celebration!!! i am so happy for that!

    a big hug – see you in 2008.

  9. tori says:

    This is awesome. I have a really great best friend (although I have a few best friends, so I should probably just call them all good friends) who lives sort of far. When she found out I had cancer, she started sending me letters every few weeks, and leaving me phone messages every few weeks too. She would just tell me about her day, and tell me how proud she was of me, which really meant a lot to me. I know a lot of times when someone doesn’t know what to say, they end up saying nothing and sort of ignoring the person unintentionally. I think it is great that you are sharing these ideas!

  10. Devra Renner says:

    Well if Why Mommy gave me her phone number she’d be in big trouble, because I am the type of friend who calls and leaves messages like “Toad! Toad! Get out of bed! The sun is shining! It’s spring!”

    I tend to go for stuff from literature or songs that have to do with surviving, being powerful, getting up and going, etc.

    Add to the fact that I have no singing voice to speak of, so all together if I am leaving a message for you, you are going to want to at least be able to gather up the strength to delete me! ; )

  11. MummyCha says:

    Hi WM, this is great stuff you are posting here. That is informative for people leaving far from a parent of a friend who is fighting cancer.

    When my Mum had breast cancer a few years ago, I was already living 10,000 miles from her. I used to call her several times a week to check on her. She usually told me that she was feeling ok, and that was making me feel good. The truth is that she probably was not feeling that ok. I had little understanding of how chemo affected her life, but I did not know how to deal with the situation (her feelings, my feelings).
    So thanks again for posting emails of this kind.

    Happy New Year to you and your family! I deeply wish that 2008 brings you so much joy that it will help you replace the memories of the recent events with brand new happy memories.

  12. ja9davis says:

    Your thoughts always touch my heart. We are pulling for you here in Mississippi. Happy 2008 to you and your family. Love, Janine Davis

  13. Happy New Year, Whymommy!!

    With love from all of us here–

    CGF and Girlies 3 xo

  14. R&JFOSTER says:

    You are always in our thoughts and prayers. You are very special to offer this web site for anyone who needs your touch. I prepare chemo for patients in my hospital and try to remember to say a little prayer over each. Because of you, I will not forget.
    Have a great New Year..2008
    Mississippi/Briarwood connection
    Richard & Judy

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