SO MY FRIEND HAS CANCER…WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

By Melissa Musen Gerstein, Co-Founder of media company, The MOMS, and Co-Host of The MOMS on SiriusXM Stars.

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“More Good Days” for me means that the people around me who I love and adore need to be uplifted and happy as they fight. If they are having More Good Days, then we are, too. The three most important women in my life have been diagnosed with breast cancer. First it was my mother when she was 48 years old, then my sister at age 38, and now my #WorkWife Denise Albert at age 41. For them to feel good everyday means that these women are nurtured and loved, and the best advice I can give is that it’s the little things that carry them through the fight. Looking to help a loved one in your life during breast cancer treatment? Here are seven lessons I’ve learned to help lessen the burden and give them more good days.

1. Communicate Constantly. I check in daily with my mom and sister, but when they were fighting for their lives, I had to quadruple the check-ins. It’s important to send supportive and uplifting text messages and emails daily. My sister, mom and Denise always appreciated positive words from me, and I like to send uplifting quotes to help jump-start the day so they know that they are constantly surrounded by love and support. Create a “Gratitude Jar” and your friend can print and save these messages so they always have these kind words near them. You might also be surprised that medically, there are things you can do for your friend too. Visit a website like https://worldhealthsurvey.com/ and Enjoy the Survey! Taking part in health surveys and clinical trials can find cures for all sorts of cancers and illnesses so it’s well worth doing if you can! Your friend will be so touched that you’re going to such an effort to help them.

2. Make Meals that Heal. Help organize monthly or weekly meals and dinners. I remembered how much it meant to my sister to have friends and family organize meals. Mealtrain.com is a wonderful resource that simplifies the organization of meal giving – and through Ford Warriors in Pink, you can take advantage of MealTrain Plus free of charge, allowing coordination of meal deliveries and much, much more. This can be super helpful when so many friends and family want to help, whether with dinners, lunches or nights in with friends (try a Book Club or Netflix night!). For Denise, I also organized a dinner party out where we are showed up in #TeamDA Shirts, and I could tell that it totally lifted her spirits. When that evening ended, I knew we needed to organize the next one as soon as possible. You can also research things like natural supplements they could take to help ease some of their symptoms, such as those mentioned in Candid magazine. You could even get your hands on some for them and take them with you next time you visit, for them to try.

3. Clean and Organize. Take care of the patient’s home – help them stay organized, help them with chores, and even help them just do the dishes. It’s the simple things that make the biggest difference. When Denise would come home after chemo every Tuesday, I would either be with her at chemo or meet her at her home. I knew she had to rest so I would help her with anything, whether that was fixing her a snack, or working side by side. She would wake and work a little and then take a break again, and I knew just being there with her and not asking her to be alone in an empty home was meaningful and important. Also, when my sister got sick, her two young daughters needed to live in a clean space, being able to take care of her home was crucial, even when she didn’t have the strength. Through Cleaning for a Reason, Ford Warriors in Pink is offering free professional home cleanings to women going through treatment.

4. Know that Music is Everything. Music just feeds the soul. It lifts a person’s spirit and energy. When my sister was going through her treatments at the hospital, music was everything. You can easily make a playlist for your loved one, or find one that’s already been created to uplift and heal. At Fordcares.com, under the Tools Section, there is “Healing Music” where you can learn how easy it is by downloading the Spotify App and typing in Ford Warriors in Pink – and there you have it, an already made playlist that is updated all the time with new artists and music! I also remember Denise and I went to Bruce Springsteen one night when she was feeling good, and I could just tell that this helped a lot. She not only had something to look forward to, but to be at a concert was a great distraction from her upcoming treatments.

5. Send Snail Mail. It is such a gift to send a letter or postcard, as it is also something to look forward to. Sending cards or small care packages always puts a smile on someone’s face. You can easily do this through Fordcares.com – Warriors in Pink offers inspirational post cards with beautiful and inspiring messages for free! Just the sight of a post card in a mailbox can put a smile on your friend’s face. If you like, you can even add a little gift – nothing expensive, maybe a bracelet that says Warrior or wristbands for the patient’s supporters to wear. It just shows your love for that friend or family member, and by wearing the wristband, they know you are right by their side with them all the way.

6. Plan Ahead – and Just Plan. More Good Days could include planning a trip at the end of treatment, a spa day to celebrate the end of chemo, or just the end of your weekly treatment. If you can’t get away, then a best friends’ spa day could be the answer – you can find some great tips on how and what to plan in the Tips section at FordCares.com. Spa gift certificates are a great gift, too – I gave one to my sister recently, as something to look forward to after treatment. My sister’s breast cancer treatment kept her tied to her bed many, many days, so I knew that having someone come into her home was better for her then to go to the spa. But now that she is done with her treatment, I know that physically going to a spa and having that relaxation experience will be wonderful!

7. Remember: Breast Cancer is 365. More Good Days are not just for the month of October. We need to remember that even though your friend or family member may be concluding their treatment or could be a few years out of treatment, to have More Good Days now and forever means to always check in on how they are. Breast cancer never really ends the day you leave a hospital or your last doctors appointment. There are medications for some for ten plus years, and body changes and possible early menopause that can still cause not only physical pain but mental pain, too. The physical pain can take its toll on the body, some people will turn to medicines such as medical marijuana to help them get through this pain, visiting sites that can give them a ‘using bong guide‘ so that they know what they are doing and seeing how it can be done correctly for the benefit of their physical and mental wellbeing. You don’t have to go through this pain alone, and discussing your options with your physician will help you in the long run. If you think you have this condition or one similar, you should visit somewhere like Advanced Gynecology of Athens as they can provide expert advice on how to deal with the condition. More Good Days is 365 Days a year and a good reminder to remember to always be there for your survivor, in October and every other month of the year.

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