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Topic: How to help long distance Friend recently diagnosed

Forum: For Caregivers, Family, Friends and Supporters —

A place to share your struggles and concerns about supporting and caring for a person you love diagnosed with breast cancer with others who understand.

Posted on: Jun 6, 2017 12:24PM

Emariep wrote:

I have a friend who was recently diagnosed. She is in her mid twenties and has three toddler age boys and lives very far from me. I never knew her super well, just for a short time at our last church. We both have moved since. I found out about her diagnoses through Facebook. I want to do something for her to help her keep up her spirits as well as her sweet family. I was thinking of getting her a Birchbox subscription to help her feel pretty even when she loses her hair? I wasn't sure if that was a good idea. Also something for the kids/husband? Any thoughts or help would be super appreciated

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Jun 6, 2017 02:55PM Denise-G wrote:

ANYTHING, absolutely ANYTHING you do or send her will never be forgotten.  Just make sure to do it!  So many friendships are lost during cancer treatments as friends often run the other way!  Good for you for trying to find the right thing. 

One of my friends sent me a greeting card EVERY WEEK for an entire year!  I get tears in my eyes when I think about it.

Sending all the best!

www.denise4health.info my BC Blog with over 175 informative posts - stop by and say hello! Myself, my mom, and sister were all diagnosed with BC within 3 years. What a ride! Dx 10/10/2011, IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 9/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 11/22/2011 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left Chemotherapy 12/26/2011 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 2/27/2012 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Hormonal Therapy 10/10/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jun 6, 2017 03:57PM Zillsnot4me wrote:

She would absolutely love anything. You could include stickers for the boys in the cards. I think a busy box of small toys, coloring books, videos, etc to pull out when she's tired and needs quiet time for the boys would be awesome. A gift card for pizza or Chinese delivered?

Husbands are another kettle of fish. A funny card every once in awhile? A pair of rubber gloves so he doesn't get dishpan hands? Mine washed dishes by hand for therapy. He probably wouldn't use them but it might make him laugh. My friends gave mine a backpack with snacks, magazines, etc to carry during sx waiting rooms.

I still have all my cards too. They meant a lot. I had small kids too. My friends and family were awesome with meals and cleaning house and giving my DH a break with childcare.

Liver 1/ 2016, Xgeva 9/2015, Bones 4/2015, Lungs 4/2013 Dx 4/2013, 4cm, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/28/2013 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Chemotherapy 5/22/2013 AC Hormonal Therapy 10/2/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 11/5/2013 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 9/25/2015 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/6/2016 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 1/7/2016 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 2/3/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 4/23/2017 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Hormonal Therapy
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Jun 6, 2017 07:36PM illimae wrote:

Just checking in with her consistently (at least every few weeks) goes a long way. It's always nice to know someone cares to follow up.

Diagnosed at 41 Stage IV De Novo Dx 11/16/2016, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Surgery 6/26/2017 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary Radiation Therapy 8/10/2017 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 10/5/2017, IDC, Left, Stage IV, metastasized to brain Radiation Therapy 10/20/2017 External: Brain Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 6, 2017 08:12PM gb2115 wrote:

Honestly, the thing that helped us the most was food gift cards. With three little ones, and surgeries and appointments, and feeling blue because of the diagnosis, putting a meal together can be extremely hard. So pizza, panera, etc...even grocery cards maybe so her husband can pick up carry out.

Videos, books, etc, for the kids to be entertained. It's hard on the kids. My 4 year old daughter didn't understand what was going on, other than mommy had a boo-boo.

Dx IDC in October 2016, stage 2A, 1.2 cm ER/PR+ Her2-, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes. Mammaprint low risk luminal A, Lumpectomy + radiation + tamoxifen.
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Jun 6, 2017 08:46PM - edited Jun 6, 2017 08:53PM by Artista928

Great suggestions here. I agree that anything you do and keeping in touch weekly just to check in is huge. Many close friends disappear, much less long distance ones. I have one in WA state that has sent me some tasty nice snacky treats in the form of a gift basket when I was going through chemo since you shouldn't become hungry or nausea will happen.

For me personally, I didn't care how I looked. No mood or strength to do anything except put my cap on and go to txs and come home and crash. There is an organization that offers free makeup and a class for those in chemo, look good feel better. I would think their products wouldn't be as chemical filled as Birchbox that focuses on cancer pts. Lots of assistance is offered including cleaning services for cancer pts.

www.cancer.org/treatment/suppo...

Dx'd at 50. Doing it all, all by myself. Stopped Letrozole after 5 weeks. Debilitating se's. Back on Tamox now. Dx 6/2/2015, IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 1/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (DUAL) Surgery 8/6/2015 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 11/3/2015 AC + T (Taxotere) Radiation Therapy 5/2/2016 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 6/28/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 12/9/2016 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Hormonal Therapy 2/14/2017 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy 3/26/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 9/1/2017 Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant
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Jun 7, 2017 11:08PM KB870 wrote:

Even just a card with a note that someone was thinking of me was lovely!

Surgery 9/19/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Dx 10/6/2016, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Surgery 10/31/2016 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Targeted Therapy 11/28/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/29/2016 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 4/3/2017 Multi-catheter: Breast
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Jun 8, 2017 12:45AM MinusTwo wrote:

I liked cards best. I could open & read them in my own time & didn't have to deal with people ringing the door bell or calling on the phone when I was asleep. But the cards were wonderful.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Jun 8, 2017 02:06AM TinyDancer5 wrote:

My sister sent me homemade cards in the mail for each treatment. It was something so thoughtful to look forward to. My niece sent me a stuffed dog to bring with me to keep me company and not be alone during treatment.

Dx 5/28/2015, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 6/22/2015 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Targeted Therapy 8/20/2015 Kadcyla (T-DM1, ado-trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 11/10/2015 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 1/19/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Hormonal Therapy 8/26/2016
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Jun 8, 2017 06:45PM MTwoman wrote:

My Mom (who lives very far away) talked with a local restaurant that always makes 5 different homemade soups every day. They created a "frequent soup card" just for me that let me stop in and get a nice warm dinner on my way home from work (it is cold here in winter and I love soup :) ). It was a punch card, and in the end, they didn't punch the last hole for several weeks. It was SOooo nice not to have to think about 'what's for dinner?' during certain phases of treatment.

Dx 12/10/2002, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/19/2002 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 12/23/2003 Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Surgery Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery Mastectomy: Right
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Jun 9, 2017 03:19AM Zillsnot4me wrote:

What an awesome idea!

Liver 1/ 2016, Xgeva 9/2015, Bones 4/2015, Lungs 4/2013 Dx 4/2013, 4cm, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/28/2013 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Chemotherapy 5/22/2013 AC Hormonal Therapy 10/2/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 11/5/2013 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 9/25/2015 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/6/2016 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 1/7/2016 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 2/3/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 4/23/2017 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Hormonal Therapy
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Jun 9, 2017 03:36AM Tappermom383 wrote:

So many great ideas here. I received a lot of cards in the first two weeks when I couldn't really appreciate them. Recently I gathered them all together and read them carefully. Now that I'm going through radiation daily - nothing. I would love to get a card or two now when I really feel in need of encouragement. So I love the idea of sending your friend a card every week, perhaps with a food gift card tucked in occasionally. But just knowing that you're thinking about her will mean the world to her.

MJ


Diagnosed at 70 after four excisional biopsies over the course of 47 years. MammaPrint came back Low Risk. DexaScan: osteopenia. Cancer removed was 1.8 cm. Dx 3/23/2017, DCIS/IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/31/2017 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 5/22/2017 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 7/17/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jun 9, 2017 02:49PM Zillsnot4me wrote:

Yes people rally with surgery and chemo. They are significant outward changes to the body. Few understand rads and fatigue or the emotional toll it can take later.

Liver 1/ 2016, Xgeva 9/2015, Bones 4/2015, Lungs 4/2013 Dx 4/2013, 4cm, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/28/2013 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Chemotherapy 5/22/2013 AC Hormonal Therapy 10/2/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 11/5/2013 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 9/25/2015 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/6/2016 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 1/7/2016 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 2/3/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 4/23/2017 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Hormonal Therapy
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Jun 9, 2017 04:30PM SpecialK wrote:

Because I spent many years as a military spouse I have friends scattered across the country, and the world. A number of those friends calendared my chemo and Herceptin treatments - over the course of the year, a long haul - and texted me while I was in the chair. It was a great and thoughtful gesture and I so appreciated it! To know someone was thinking of me right as I was trying to summon the inner fortitude I needed to submit to treatment was a big boost. Neighbors cooked for me, but did it unobtrusively - I did cook ahead, and spent years as a caterer so dinner is not probably the first thing others thought of for us, but it was usually something along the lines of "I made a big pot of soup or chili, would you like to share it with us", which was so sweet. We had not lived in our neighborhood long before I was diagnosed so those who stepped forward in that way were awesome. I received books, button front pajamas, an insulated tumbler with a lid (invaluable!), lotions, and help with our dog, among other things. I have accompanied a few friends to chemo since my own diagnosis, and some have received nice soft blankets - some homemade - as it is often chilly in an infusion room. I had a wonderful fellow Air Force friend who had been diagnosed with breast cancer many years before who had uterine cancer when I was diagnosed - we went through chemo together, me in Florida and her in Virginia. We sent each other "thinking of you" cards, which was kind of hilarious. I think a soft and lightweight fleece zip front, boxed sets of DVDs of a fave TV show or series of movies, a magazine subscription, gift cards for local restaurants are all great, or even a gift of a grocery shopping service like Shipt or Peapod, or something similar. The work colleagues of a local single friend who had chemo banded together and purchased a selection of dinners from a prepared food company that was portioned and could be frozen or eaten immediately, which was super helpful for her.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 14 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3
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Jun 9, 2017 04:45PM Goincrzy8 wrote:

In the beginning, when I thought I was going to have chemo, my daughter in law contacted my friends and family. It seems like each day I received something in the mail. I received chemo hats, chemo scarfs, blankets, lotions, anything for chemo. I feel bad because I have all these things and never went thru chemo. But nothing brightens your day, like something unexpected. I am sure she will appreciate anything you send or do. It is nice to know you have people who have your back.

You are right, during surgery and chemo people are asking how you are, do you need anything. Once that is complete, seems like in the beginning I had tons of people checking on me. Now it is just my close family and close friends.


I am not sick, I have a few bad cells Dx 10/18/2016, IDC, Left, Grade 2, 12/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/9/2016 Mastectomy: Left
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Jun 11, 2017 03:42PM farmerlucy wrote:

Consistent caring contact is what is most helpful. Maybe make a note to text or call once a week and find out how it is going. One person called me every Saturday and that was very comforting, especially since I felt like I was on a flimsy raft in the middle of a scary ocean.

Dx at 51 after a preventive mx that wasn't. Oncotype dx 3. 3D tattoos from Vinnie! PTSD?? You are not alone! Surgery 2/21/2012 Prophylactic mastectomy; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 2/24/2012, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 3/11/2012 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 7/22/2012 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Hormonal Therapy 4/10/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/14/2015 Prophylactic ovary removal

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