Last week yet another one of my friends was faced with Cancer. Again.
It was discovered that her mom had a brain tumor. Her mom, one tough, awesome, amazing lady, had already stared Cancer in the face once and beat it. Now, here it was again in yet another form. Ugh.
And, again, I was lost, just like all the other times a friend, or a parent or sibling of friend was diagnosed, or a child of a friend was diagnosed. What could I do? How could I help? I didn’t want to get in the way. The most logical thing out there is sign up for a meal, but my constant inconsistent traveling makes me a poor candidate for helping out with meals. I can barely commit to serving my own family meals more than 2 days in advance.
What could this friend do?
I remembered Aimee, whom I met at the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival at NYU in January. Aimee had designed a webtool called What Friends Do, which helps friends help friends when life deals a blow.
Her friend, Laura, had faced brain cancer and Aimee and her friends and family rallied around her and built a website at the time to keep everyone up to date on what was happening with Laura’s care. It was similar to Caring Bridge, except her site also shared ways the friends could help, and enabled everyone to communicate what was being done by whom when.
In helping her friend, Aimee saw that they were not alone in this need and, with the help of others, What Friends Do was born. On What Friends Do, users can build a team to rally around and nurture their friend. They can plan who is doing what, make donations and share updates as to how treatments are progressing.
I texted Aimee to ask that question: What can I do? Here ‘s what she shared:
5 simple things to do for a friend impacted by a life-changing event:
- Send matching comfy socks with grippers for your friend and the patient to wear in the hospital.
- Send purse-sized unscented hand lotion.
- Send a collapsible/ travel neck pillow your friend can keep in her purse for hospital visits.
- Send her online subscriptions to fun magazines she can read on her iPad or Kindle in the hospital.
- Create and send a breakfast basket (or have breakfast delivered weekly) to your friend’s home. (Breakfast is one of those meals that often gets left off of meal planing calendars.) And, yes, my friends, Panera DOES deliver.
4 more ways to help, that require a bit more planning
- Get a list of birthdays and anniversaries significant to your friend and the patient and reach out a week before each one, offering to go shopping for birthday gifts and bring cards to the hospital for her to fill out and sign.
- Create a birthday party in a box for use in the chemo room if a birthday needs to be celebrated there. Include cupcakes, party hats, streamers and possibly even Champagne.
- Does your friend need lawn service, housekeeping? Arrange those for her.
- Organize a ‘Kick Cancer in the Butt’ day (or chemo, or whatever it is she is facing) on surgery days or other significant days. Have friends take pictures of themselves wearing crazy socks and tag your friend or the patient on Facebook or email the photos with a message so she can see support from her friends everywhere.
All these ideas were suggested by Aimee for me to consider doing for my friend whose mom is battling Cancer. (Umm, unnamed friend who may be reading this, I hope you don’t think I’m a loser because I didn’t do the whole list.)
For more ways to help, or to see how you can build a one stop spot to support a friend or family-member in need, check out Aimee’s company website, What Friends Do.
Have you helped a friend in need or been that friend who was helped by others? Please help us help others by sharing in the comments YOUR simple ideas of ways to help.