I’m working on a project for my personal blog. It’s what I’m calling my “Great Goodness Giftaway.” And one part of it is alllll about girlfriends. Because as if I hadn’t already had it spelled out for me by the universe throughout my 33 years, since being diagnosed with cancer two months ago, I’ve determined that girlfriends can make pretty much anything possible. ANYTHING.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

Because my husband, he’s the bomb. He is my person. And my parents + in-laws + family = irreplaceable. But my girlfriends, well, they don’t really owe me anything. They could, at any time, walk away from this situation guilt-free. They aren’t bound by blood or vows. They just happen to have met me at some point and thought, we have stuff in common, let’s hang out. And now, now they are dealing with my cancer. 

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

Shortly after diagnosis, I told one of my very best friends, “Btw. Sorry about the cancer.”

And she asked, “Why would you be sorry for that?” To which I replied, “I’m just sorry that all you people have to be on my merry-go-round. But boy, am I glad you are. I’d get too dizzy alone.”

And then, she said the most perfect words {okay. Actually, we were texting. Because we’re both mamas. And so, texting}.

“Honored to be on this ride with you. Scary and sad at times, but it’s going to be quite the journey, with one hell of an awesome ending.”

And I loved her for that. Because she said the truth. That she is my friend. She is scared. And sad. But it will be okay. And she truly believes that. Because we all have to believe that. I can’t have people in my village who don’t. And she knows that. And she knew that she could be 100% honest. And say what she was feeling. Because she knows me.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

Because your girlfriends get you. They don’t always know exactly how you’re feeling. But they get you. They know the days you just can’t pick up the phone. But they still leave you messages. They know the days you need them to be at your door step post haste.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

They know when you need a coffee. And they know when you need a text of a sarcastic meme. They are the girls who go wig shopping with you. The ones who let you ugly cry sob into their shoulder and snot on their shirts. The ones who offer to wash your laundry. Fill your fridge with meals. Send you flowers and cupcakes and hats and bbq sauce and pomegranates from across the nation, or across the world. They’re the ones who even though you can’t see them in person, you feel their presence daily. And they call you an inspiration.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

They invite you over for meals because they know you can’t look at your bedroom walls any longer. They are the girls who rake your leaves and clean your toilets. The ones who offer you rides to church. Bring you calories because you need them. Make you smile every single time you realize you get to have them on your team. And they are the ones who pray for you daily.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

These girlfriends are the ones who offer to play “Driving Miss Ashli” for you. They are the girls who don’t care that you never want to wear a bra again or allow you to walk around with your chia pet head in full form. The ones who tell you they will use their personal leave to care for you after surgery. And sit in chemo with you. They tell you that you rock the bald dome. Take your kids at a moments notice. Wear t-shirts with your name on it. Talk to you about anti-depressants and diarrhea and your post-baby boobs being mushy deflated bags of mashed potatoes. And spend major moolah for a night on the town with you. 

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

The ones who text and PM you with youtube links. And know that a candle or a cup of coffee or just their presence can comfort you more than just about anything. They are the ones who stand by you when you don’t respond because you just can’t talk about it anymore. And the ones who listen when all you want to do is talk about it.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

They run for you. They’d walk through fire for you. They do more than you ever could have expected. And they tell you they are not going anywhere. And they mean it with every fiber of their being.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

So people have asked, “What do I say to someone in my life who has cancer? What do I do to help them?”

And I say, “I don’t know. Just do what my tribe is doing. Just be you. Keep being you. Don’t stop telling them about your kid’s diaper rash because you don’t think it’s as important as cancer. Stop over randomly… you’ll be able to tell if they’re not up for guests. Don’t stop complaining about your job because you think it’s not as hard as chemo. Text them every day if you want… seven times if you please. Bring them gifts or food or do their laundry… whatever makes you feel helpful will make their heart full. Don’t stop crying or laughing or venting because you don’t know if it’s the right thing for them to hear. Just keep being the person you were before they told you they have cancer. Keep being you. And never forget that they will forever feel love for you because they have a newfound love of goodness. Because you are helping them earn their title of survivor. And for them, it’s the biggest title they will ever hold.” 

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

So that’s it. That’s the girlfriend’s guide to having a friend with cancer. And I didn’t even write the guide. My girlfriends {you all know who you are} are writing it, daily. My girlfriends are showing me how to totally rock the role of cancer-girl-BFF… supportive confidante… bestie… tribe member… and cheerleader. They are the people who heard the words, I have cancer, from my lips or from my writing, and came to my side… to my rescue… instead of running straight for the hills. Even when they had no true reason to have to stay.

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

There are far too many to even name {And no… it’s not even limited to the gal pals I featured photos of}. But today, I say thank you to allllll my girlfriends. I am sorry about the cancer. But I am thankful you’re on the merry-go-round with me. Because while it’s one heck of a ride, it’s made better with you by my side. And I know deep in the very depths of me that when I say the words, “I’m a survivor,” it will be, in part, because of you. 

The Girlfriend's Guide to Having a Friend With Cancer   www.herviewfromhome.com

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/

Cancer Taught Me to Open My Hand

In: Cancer, Faith, Motherhood
Woman in cancer treatment holding a young child's hand

When I thought I was going to die, grief blinded me. Not really for myself. I’ve had a pretty good run. Reflecting on my life, it’s easy for me to see that my stroll into adulthood was leisurely. In college, I studied literature, a luxurious indulgence. Even as a naive 20-year-old, I understood the extravagance of being able to sit under a tree and read, albeit in sweltering Missouri heat. I studied the world’s literary masterpieces while sweat trickled down my back, mosquitoes nipped at hard-to-reach places, and the MBA students on campus wondered what I was doing. But those...

Keep Reading

“Wear It Anyway, You Never Know When You’ll Get Another Chance.”

In: Cancer, Friendship, Living
Two women holding up dresses, color photo

“It’s way too fancy,” I told my husband. “I’d be overdressed.” My new outfit was a beauty—white and lacy, perfect for a summer cocktail party, but too much for a school function on a Tuesday evening. In the back of my head, though, I heard my friend’s voice. Wear it anyway. You never know when you’ll get another chance. The last time I saw Shalean, I was bloated from chemo drugs, and both of us wondered if it would be the last time we’d see each other. My prognosis was bad: triple negative breast cancer, already spread to my lymph...

Keep Reading

This Is How to Show Up for a Friend Who Has Cancer

In: Cancer, Friendship, Living
Bald woman during cancer treatments and same woman in remission, color photo

One moment I was wrestling with my toddler and rocking my 3-month-old to sleep, and the next I was staring blankly at the doctor who just told me I had stage four cancer that had metastasized from my uterus to my left lung and spleen. “Well, I didn’t see that coming,” I smiled at the young doctor who had clearly never given this kind of news to anyone before. I looked over at my husband’s shell-shocked face as he rocked our baby back and forth in the baby carrier because I was still nursing, and we knew we’d be at...

Keep Reading

I Never Wanted to Be a Hospital Mom

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Toddler standing with IV pole, black-and-white photo

Life as a hospital mom is not a life for just anyone. You have no other choice, there is no get-out-free card you can just put down and say, “Nope, Lord, I do not want this, take it back.” My heart hurts 99 percent of the time. My heart hurts for my child and the pain he is suffering. A necessary evil to keep him on the side of Heaven’s gates.  My heart hurts from the unknown of each day. Will he eat? Will he thrive today? What utter chaos will be thrown our way today? Will there be vomit...

Keep Reading

Cancer Is Weird

In: Cancer, Living
Woman smiling, color photo

Cancer is weird. For 3.5 years I looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize the person looking at me.  First, it was scared eyes. My eyes had lost the look in them that made me feel invincible. I had learned I wasn’t.  A week or so later, I saw the cut on my chest for my port. Then it was a bald head. Then a bald, steroid filled, and puffed up faced person looking at me. RELATED: This is What Cancer Looks Like Sometimes it was a teary-eyed, defeated person. Someone who had been up all night in pain.  I...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Let My Baby Die

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Toddler boy lying in hospital bed, color photo

I wasn’t made for this.  I am not strong enough. Lord, where are you taking me? Why does this joyful time, filled with our last baby’s firsts, have to be this way? Why did the doctors look at me that way? They know what’s coming, and deep down inside, so do I. The inevitable word that is about to come out of their mouths.  The C-word.  Cancer. It’s life-changing.  Almost as if it were a car accident. Believe me, I know about that. To be the reason behind a grown man hanging onto a thread. Completely unintentional. I just needed...

Keep Reading

The Art of Showing Up

In: Cancer, Kids
Dad hugging young son

As a father of four boys, you may imagine that life is hectic from time to time for me.  While it truly is, in fact, quite crazy sometimes, it isn’t always because of the reasons you might think.  I have four boys, ages 11, 4, 3, and almost 2, and that certainly makes for an interesting daily living experience for my wife and me.  We do our best to remain patient and lean on God’s strength and peace to fill us on the days that seem overly daunting and occasionally even downright impossible, but we are human.  Therefore, we fail...

Keep Reading

No One Prepares You for When Your Husband Has Cancer

In: Baby, Cancer, Marriage
Family sitting by window

No one ever prepares you for the moment you hear your spouse has cancer.   More so, no one prepares for you to hear this when you have a 5-month-old at home. “Mom, they said the tumor is cancerous, and they need to enucleate his eye on Thursday,” I say quietly into the phone as I pump in a dirty bathroom stall at the eye hospital.   Whir. Whir. Whir. Whir. Gosh, I hate pumping.  Today is my first day being away from my daughter. My mom is watching her while I made the trip to the eye hospital with...

Keep Reading

l Will Never Stop Missing My Sister

In: Cancer, Grief, Loss
Woman in red shirt

It might be 16 years too late to properly depict the depressive senses that engulfed my whole being when I lost my only sister Aurora to colon cancer in 2006. Painful flashbacks continue to fill my everyday life at the most inopportune moments that  writing about it might somehow alleviate my grief. I remember getting that random phone call from her one sunny day in September 2006 and how guilt automatically hit me. It had been a while since I last saw her. “It’s positive,” she said. Backed with years of joking around and playing tricks on her since childhood,...

Keep Reading

Having Cancer at 34 Taught Me How to Live

In: Cancer
Husband and wife on boat, color photo

This picture came up in my Facebook memories today. It took my breath away for a moment, just like it has for nine years now. It was the last picture taken of me before my midwife found the lump and my life changed forever.  The first time I saw that photo, I realized I didn’t know that woman anymore. She was naive. Laying there in the sun without any inkling that a cancer was growing inside her. Look at her—unafraid and without anxiety. Less than 48 hours later, she would be gone, replaced by someone who was afraid of each...

Keep Reading