Cheer up an ailing friend

McClatchy TribuneOctober 2, 2011 


We know, flowers sound like such a cop-out, but they can turn hospital rooms into something resembling home. At Organic Bouquet get a dozen yellow roses, and 5 percent of the proceeds are donated to the Breast Cancer Fund. Match a cheerful bouquet with a cheerful note.

$49.95 at


Chemotherapy clinics can be chilly places in more ways than one, so a soft, bright blanket helps warm the experience. West Elm’s supersoft “favorite throw,” made of 100 percent acrylic, comes in 12 colors. Avoid fabrics with fragrance, as some people undergoing treatment react badly to some smells.

$29 at


Soft, loose-fitting clothes are a welcome respite post-surgery, when getting dressed can be stressful and uncomfortable. Alternative Apparel does comfort with style, with fleece hoodies, eco-friendly sweat pants and T-shirts made of ultrasoft pima cotton, like this LaJolla T. There’s a “Pink Ribbon” line, in which 10 percent of net sales go toward finding a cure.

$48 at


Laughter does wonders to lift spirits, so send or bring over a funny movie you think she would like. Better yet, get a Netflix gift subscription to keep comedies rolling in. Better still, pull up a chair and laugh with her. Start with “There’s Something About Mary,” with Cameron Diaz.

$7.99 a month for streaming or DVD by mail ($15.98 for both) at


Among the many reasons chemotherapy stinks is that it’s boorrrring. Help your friend pass the time with tools for a (sedentary) activity she enjoys, such as knitting yarn or a crossword puzzle book. Board games are good at killing hours -- as is good company -- so bring along chess, Scrabble or puzzles. Games in travel form, such as Imagination Games’ Bag Gammon, are ideal for portability.

$9.99 at


Now in its fifth edition, Dr. Susan Love’s “Breast Book,” considered the bible on all things mammary, gives comprehensive and accessible information on breast cancer and breast health, so women know what to expect.

$22 at


Offer to cook meals, walk the dog, help with child care or give rides to treatment. Be specific; saying “let me know if you need anything” won’t do much good if a person is shy about asking for help. If you bring food, check to see whether treatment has changed her sense of taste or dietary requirements. lets you set up a website where you can host a calendar for those who wish to help.


Help gather information about her diagnosis. Point her to resources, such as, which discusses how to talk to your child after being diagnosed. Beware not to overload her with information or be critical or dictatorial. operates a 24-hour hotline at 800-221-2141, where women can connect with other survivors.

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