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When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my friends and family rallied around me. Here are just a few of the things people did that still make me tear up when I think about them:
- My husband cooked a huge soup on the day I went for chemo so that I'd have plenty of fluids to flush the toxic stuff out of my system.
- One of my friends, who knew I wanted to keep up my strength, made me climb stairs with her for half an hour twice a week. She insisted that it was she who needed the exercise and the moral support of a companion. How could I refuse?
- Another friend sent me books that she had screened to make sure they contained no disturbing cancer references.
- To prevent and treat side effects, I had to take a bewildering variety of medications for several days before and after chemo, so a friend bought me a pill organizer and made a chart for each day.
- An acquaintance who had alopecia came over with half a dozen wigs and helped me try them on.
- A friend who had been through chemo went with me to the wig salon the day I got my head shaved and wore my own wig for the first time.
- Eight months later, three friends took me out for dinner the night I stopped wearing my wig—and told me over and over how great I looked with my sparse, quarter-inch-long hair.
- Another friend took me scarf shopping.
- Another took me hat shopping.
- A colleague bought me an accordion file and some folders and helped me set up a system for keeping track of doctors' bills, insurance claims, pathology reports, prescription instructions and so forth. Several years later, I still use it.
- My son gave me Neulasta injections after each of the first four rounds of chemo. I was squeamish, and he had confidence from injecting his cat with saline solution.
- My daughter gave me mani-pedis when my nails grew back after chemo had knocked them out.
- A couple of women who had been diagnosed before me told me what to expect and what questions to ask my doctors.
- A colleague brought me eat-in-the-office lunch every day when she went out to get hers.
- Many friends invited me to movies and other events—anything to fill my mind with something besides cancer.
- Friends visited me in the hospital, picked me up from surgery and accompanied me to doctor's appointments and chemo.
- A fellow survivor who won an eight-day Caribbean cruise for two in a fund-raising competition shared the prize with me, and I went.
- One of my husband's co-workers helped me research my treatment regimen.
- A friend knitted an enormous bra with sequined nipples and gave it to me.
- Another friend gave me a religious medallion. I'm not religious, but I carry it in my purse anyway.
- Yet another friend bought me silk pajamas to wear in the hospital after my mastectomy.
And there were many other acts of kindness and generosity—some by strangers I met along the way. What did people do for you that made your path a little smoother?
Megan is a volunteer on SHARE's Breast Cancer Helpline.