Our friend’s mom was recently diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her brain. These tips on how to comfort a friend whose mom has cancer are from him. He shares what to say and do when your friend’s mom has cancer, and what not to say or do.
A Willow Tree Figurine – “My Sister My Friend” is a beautiful symbol of friendship and comfort. These figurative sculptures speak in quiet ways to heal, inspire, and connect with people we care about. A symbol of your friendship can be a beautiful way to comfort your friend and help her cope with her mom’s cancer.
If you want to give your friend a gift that shows your support and love, read Sympathy Gifts for the Loss of a Mother. Your friend’s mom hasn’t passed along yet, but the right sympathy gift will give your friend strength and courage to keep moving forward. Knowing how to comfort a friend involves understanding what she needs.
My friend’s mom was diagnosed with cancer a couple weeks ago – she has Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This tumour started in her brain and has not spread to any other part of her body. The bad news, he said, is that GBM is a very aggressive and fast growing tumor. When I asked him how to comfort a friend with cancer, he gave me the following ideas…
My friend’s mom needs to rest to prepare for her chemotherapy treatment for cancer. She had brain surgery, and will recover for 2-4 weeks. Then, she’ll undergo 6 weeks of daily radiation and chemotherapy treatments. The most likely side effect will be fatigue; nausea is not typical for this form of chemotherapy. After six weeks, my friend’s mom will undergo chemotherapy for five days every month for six months. The overall treatment plan is known as the Stupp Protocol. The chemotherapy medication will likely be Temozolomide.
If your friend’s mom has breast cancer, read 17 Gift Ideas for Women After a Single or Double Mastectomy.
What is the prognosis of a cancer diagnosis? The oncologist said 25-30% of patients are alive after one year under the Stupp Protocol. Some cancer patients achieve complete remission, and the cancer doesn’t return. This is not a treatment for brain cancer that works for majority of people, but for some it works quite well.
It’s important to remember that different treatment plans work for different people. If your friend’s mom has cancer, don’t criticize the diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment plan. The best tip on how to comfort a friend through cancer is to be supportive, hopeful, and positive.
How to Comfort a Friend Whose Mom Has Cancer
Most of these tips on comforting friends through cancer are from my friend; I added a few at the end. Prayer was his first request, that we pray for the best possible outcome and, as his mom would say, “Thy Will Be Done.”
Don’t just show up
Schedule short face to face visits – your friend may have organized visitation for her mom for the first while. If you want to visit, phone or text your friend first. Only stay for a short time, and don’t visit with lots of people. If you’re finding it difficult to know how to comfort a friend, be patient. She’ll be dealing with alot of different things when her mom has cancer, and may not be able to answer messages right away.
Avoid asking medical questions or offering health advice
Don’t offer medical advice or ask questions – please do not bombard your friend or his mom with medical questions or alternative treatment suggestions.
Don’t stop showing your support
Send hard copy notes or encouragement. Your friend may be receiving lots of email and text support, and hardly any print letters or cards. Remember that many people appreciate sympathy cards and condolence messages in print.
Offer to drive your friend and/or his mom to cancer appointment
If you can volunteer to escort your friend or his mom to any of the chemo treatments, they may be very grateful.
Ask your friend how to comfort her
In How to Help Your Partner Cope With Your Cancer Diagnosis, a reader asked how to comfort his girlfriend. He was diagnosed with cancer, and his girlfriend was devastated. If you aren’t sure how to comfort a friend through a cancer experience, ask her. She may know exactly what she needs, and exactly how you can comfort her.
“My mom getting cancer is not something we would have wished for,” says my friend. “This said, I have already seen blessing in the midst of these challenges. God is always at work and this is an important time to notice the hand of God in my mom’s life and in all of our lives.
My tips on comforting a friend whose mom has cancer:
- Take over home baked meals
- Offer to help with house cleaning, chores, and other daily responsibilities
- Ask what you can do to help
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to call and say you don’t know what to say
My friend had breast cancer a few years ago, and several of her friends stopped calling her. They said it was because they were so sad and scared, they’d just cry if they called her. So they did nothing…which is the worst way to comfort a friend who is dealing with cancer.
A Community-Minded Way to Comfort a Friend Through Cancer
Here’s another way to comfort a friend whose mom has cancer: go public. I was searching for tips on comforting friends through a cancer diagnosis, and found an article in the Cannon Falls Beacon. It’s called CF boy’s friends rally for mom’s fight with breast cancer; in it, Ken Haggerty reports a different way to help a friend whose mom has cancer.
Laura Mech is a 36 year old mom of three who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer, during a self-exam. She’s a Registered Nurse, and she and her husband Eric received a great deal of community support. Their son, Grant, was on a baseball team and football team during Laura’s treatment for breast cancer, and both teams donned pink laces on their muddy sports cleats as a sign of support for Laura.
Two of Laura’s friends, Stacia Ulrich and Judy Conway, had pink t-shirts with the logo “Laura’s Fight Club” on them. Grant’s classmates, teachers and others have been wearing them on Mondays (the day Laura has twice monthly chemo treatments).
Know how meaningful your comfort is to your friend
“It’s hard to be angry or bitter when you receive so much support,” said Laura. “So many wonderful things have come out of this.” She said she may consider a career change aimed at helping others who don’t have as much support as she has.
“I really have come to believe that what you put out in life, you get back ten-fold,” said Laura.
The most important tip on how to comfort a friend whose mom has cancer is to ask how you can offer support. If I had cancer, I don’t think I’d like people wearing t-shirts with my name on them, or chanting my name during a school sports event. But other people find this encouraging and helpful! It really depends on the person.
What do you think – how can we comfort friends whose moms were diagnosed with cancer?
Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.
May you find the right tips on how to comfort a friend through cancer. Be there for your friend. Don’t worry about saying and doing the right things; just show up. Be yourself. Offer yourself.