Tuesday, August 26, 2008

do it with hattitude

Say what?!?  Have you ever heard of a hattitude party?  hat+attitude = hattitude.

I spent the day yesterday with my dear friend, Marta, watching her getting pumped full of chemotherapy drugs.  And I'm having a terrible time writing this post, as there are basically no words to adequately describe watching your young friend {mother of two small children} face something like this.

Marta was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer {Triple Negative} less than four months ago.  Even though it was caught fairly early, she was diagnosed at stage three.  And because of the very aggressive growth rate of this cancer, she underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction one month after being diagnosed.  She's had some big ups and big downs ... but my goodness ... if attitude is everything, Marta is going to get through this with flying colors.

The reason for my post, is I'd like to give some suggestions on what you can do to help family, friends or even acquaintances get through a time like this.  We all often feel helpless.  And I would say, just do something ... anything.  Any gesture is going to be greatly appreciated and needed.

But first let me tell you what the worst thing is that you could do.  Tell the family, "call me if you need anything."  Even though it's said with the best of intentions ... let me be the first to tell you ... you won't be gettin' a phone call!

So what can you do?  Besides all the usual gestures {which are absolutely important}, you could set up a free website for your friend.  CaringBridge offers and hosts a free website for patients faced with illnesses.  It is an absolutely awesome way for people to stay in touch with the patient.  The patient writes in her journal and friends/family are alerted there's a new entry, they login, can sign the guest book ... it's really just an awesome thing.  Visit Marta's site here.  And I promise, anyone can set up the site.  There are easy peasy templates to choose from, you enter in a little information, download a few photos, it gives you a website address and you're all set.  I promise the family {and friends} will be forever thankful!

Next ... go to a chemo or doctor's appointment with your friend.  A spouse may not always be able to go, or someone may need to stay with the kids.  And I promise you, your friend will love a little 'friend' time.  Bring some magazines, some snacks, and spend your time giggling with your friend to keep their attention drawn away from what they're there for.  You may not always have time to do this ... but just make it happen.  It will mean the world to your friend ... and I'll bet you're the one who walks away feeling blessed.

Send the kids something to keep them busy while mom or dad aren't feeling well enough to play.

Send flowers on chemo day.

If you're not a phone person ... send a few texts now and then just to let them know they're on your mind.

Do a walk or run or triathlon in their honor.  We did the Danskin triathlon for Marta this year and wrote her name on the back of our legs.  She was honored indeed.

And so what's this hattitude thing about?  Before she started her treatments, we had the best bash for her!  Everyone brought something along to give her {gift certificates, scarves, blankets, lotions ...} ... there was a large table completely overflowing with gifts.  The entire day was an absolute blessing to Marta and a great way to send her off before getting her surgeries and starting chemo. 

Lastly ... in this book of all posts ... the television networks {ABC, NBC, CBS} are airing 'Stand Up To Cancer' on September 5 {7pm ct & 8pm et/pt}.  Check out the website for more information.  You can donate, launch a star, or honor someone.  There's even a link for an evite {I endorse the evite for this situation only!} for a viewing party.  With the scary statistic that 1 in 3 people will get cancer {one out of every three!!!} ... it's time to take a stand against this disease.


Anonymous said...

What a great idea, Tracie! The treatments are never fun when you think about what it's really for — I know because I've accompanied someone very dear to me on many treatment trips for the last 4 months, too. A true friend sticks with you through the good and the bad. Your friend is lucky to have one like you!

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a chance to check your blog in awhile and wow--lots going on!

First, you are an awesome friend! (The image of you being there for your friend and trying to make it light during such a tough time reminds me of the Sex in the City episode where they have popsicles for Samantha while she's receiving her chemo treatment.) Just proves that doing something is always better than doing nothing.

Second, you are doing a ton of charity stuff for people who truly need and deserve it--way to give back!!