One of my nearest and dearest was traveling the world last year---I missed her fiercely and would have missed her fiercely without my cancer journey...She asked me what can you do for a friend who is in the thick of it...here is what I suggested.
First off it was amazing how she and her husband and her daughter kept in touch---we facebooked emailed--the girls skyped and facebooked and every so often I would receive some present in the mail from her. They also posted pics on picasa of the wonderful places they went. This was such a gift to me--I got to live the trip with her and before she left was already dreaming of where they would go.
So send emails, photos, jokes, fwd the funny emails!!!
2nd--offer to drive their kids anywhere they need to go--this was huge for me--one of the most incredible helpful things to do.
3rd--offer to come over and help in the evenings...we have this amazing friend, S, who came whenever my husband needed to be out in the evening and the kids were home...this way I could go to bed at 7 before the girls and take my ativan and not worry if there was a fire if I would wake up.She was there every monday and friday from my surgery day oct 9 2009 until a month after my last chemo. She also picked up at soccer constantly.
4th-say yes to playdates---take the kids, allow yours to come over if they are over the age of 7 or so...anything which takes the load off of mommy or daddy being the source of all entertainment. Pick up from playdates too--the end of the day is when you get really tired.
5th--food---now this can be homemade or picked up from a restaurant--Johnny Rockets was popular in our house. Let the person know when you are on the way to the market or costco...these two events are exhausting during the first week of each treatment.
6th--walk the dog, horse, chicken whatever. Huge help
7th Walk the person---really during that first chemo week each time to have a pal to go the 50-100 yards on day 3 is great---so it takes all of about 10 minutes to arrive and say let's go walk to the corner and back! The next day encourage them to go farther but really listen because after you have done a chemo you know your energy and where it will be on which day.
8th--offer to drive them to chemo--most of us would say you could even go do something and come back or Pick up lunch from someplace yummy and bring it back while at chemo. Also baked goods--really my diet was pretty good but you do feel you deserve yummy things--I was always stopping at Paulette's in Beverly Hills for macaroons on the way home.
Gifts---blankets, chocolate, encouraging jewelry...always welcome--so are soft scarves of any shape--soft is the key here---skin is tender and your scalp can actually hurt if you lose your hair--and while you are losing your hair. If you are an x long haired person like me your neck gets really really cold!!!
Merry Christmas everyone!