How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

How to help someone who has cancer

Unfortunately, over the past year, a number of people in my life have been impacted by cancer. As many of you know, my good friend Theodora lost her mother to ovarian cancer in July and just last week, my mentor and role model within our company, had a bilateral mastectomy.  My first reaction, when I hear about someone being impacted by this horrible disease is to ask how I can help.  But, since often those being impacted are still in a state of shock and trying to adjust to their new normal, they don’t know what they need. This has left me feeling helpless historically but this time, I turned to Instagram to ask for suggestions and support. The response was overwhelming and so helpful as I looked for ways to support my friend this week and moving forward as she recovers from her mastectomy and battles breast cancer.

After asking for suggestions on Instagram, many of you asked that I share the responses as unfortunately, this is a familiar situation for many people. Some of these suggestions are ones that support the patients family while others are gifts or tokens to be shared with your friend or loved one who has cancer. I hope you all find this list helpful if you ever are faced with the news that a loved one or friend has been diagnosed with cancer or another illness.

  • Organize for someone to help with yard work, cleaning around the house or babysitting children to help relieve some of the daily stresses. If you live locally, offer to do some of this yourself.
  • Send an age-appropriate care package to their children as this can be a confusing and difficult time for the child and they may feel forgotten among all the stress and appointments.
  • Just show up for them. You don’t have to have plans but be there to listen to them, support them and do anything they want to do even if it’s watching this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy or folding laundry.
  • Simply keep them in your thoughts. Do your best to keep track of appointments, surgeries, treatments and other milestones so you can call, text or send them a note to let them know you are thinking about them.
  • Buy them things that can make them comfortable such as a cozy robe, indulgent hand lotion, or a satin pillowcase.
  • Send them a delivery food gift card or gift card to their favorite local restaurants.
  • Button down pajamas can be very helpful for someone who has recently had a surgery so a nice, luxurious pair will be a welcome gift.
  • Put together a box of items they can take with them to chemo or treatments such as trashy magazines, a Kindle with a gift card for books, hard candies, a cozy cardigan or robe as they are often cold during chemo.
  • Soothing candles such as the Aveda candles can help them feel more calm and relaxed at home when they are resting and recovering.
  • Check out websites like which were set up to help friends and family members find gifts for loved ones during this exact same scenario.
  • A gift card to Nordstrom or their favorite store so they can purchase new tops as they may need this after surgery.
  • Epsom salts and essential oils will be wonderful to help relax their achy joints from the medicine and treatments.
  • Take them homemade chicken noodle soup or freezer meals that they can enjoy later.
  • Buy or bake them pot edibles if that’s your style or ginger based food.
  • Many people recommend button or zip front shirts, especially something by the person’s favorite brand or color to bring them joy.
  • Lots and lots of hard candy that they can such on as chemo often gives patients a funny taste in their mouth. Lemon drops, ginger candies, and mints are highly recommended.
  • Small signs that show love or positive mantras such as “You Got This” that they can focus on during tough times.
  • Whipping up a batch of energy balls or bars that can easily be carried to treatment and enjoyed on the go when their energy levels are low are greatly appreciated.
  • Essential oils such as lavender and frankincense can help with relaxation.
  • Gift certificates for acupuncture or other relaxing treatments can help them feel better, relax and pamper themselves.
  • Gift cards to or their favorite local wine store so they, or their family, can enjoy their favorite wine.
  • Popsicles are a great gift and appreciated by patients going through chemo.
  • Homemade soup or soup from a local restaurant is the perfect comfort food for any patient.
  • Giving their care givers gifts of items that can help relax and de-stress such as Aveda bath products + body lotions.
  • If the person or their family likes to cook, there are some new cookbooks such as The Cancer Fighting Kitchen, Cook for your Life, The New Generation Breast Cancer Book can be great resources.
  • Many people, such as Emily Garnett, have shared their own story, and reading their blogs and story can help you better understand what your friend or loved one is going through.
  • If your friend has a mastectomy or surgery, buy them a pretty shirt that is not low cut, such as a boat neck top.
  • A necklace or bracelet with a positive mantra such as “strength” or “never give up” like the beautiful Erica Sara bracelet below, which was a favorite of Theodora’s moms and what I purchased for my friend. Also, 50% of the proceeds from the sale of NEVER GIVE UP jewelry will be donated to the fight against ovarian cancer.

  • Put together a gift box or care package of items frequently appreciated by people going through chemo or other treatments.
    • Fuzzy socks
    • Cozy blanket
    • Chapstick
    • Large water bottle
    • Hard candy
    • Ginger chews
    • Fun nail polish
    • Books and gift cards to Amazon, Barnes & Noble
    • Magazines
    • Crossword books
    • Adult coloring books
    • Fragrance-free lotion

Thank you so much to everyone who provided recommendations! If you have a recommendation that you don’t see here, please share it in the comments and I’ll update the post!

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January Reflections

Happy February!

Was it just me or did January and this week in general drag on F-O-R-E-V-E-R? The combination of jury duty and a stressful work month really did me in but, my focus on health and wellness really helped balance the stress of the month. Instead of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, I was able to end the month feeling really good and inspired for the next eleven months.

In order to help keep myself accountable of the goals I made for the year, I want to take time to REFLECT at the close of each month. Historically, I’ve had a hard time keeping track of goals or resolutions because often I would chose them at the beginning of the year, share them and then rarely think about them again. In fact, the only times I’ve found success working towards goals is when I carve out time to reflect. So, earlier this week, I shared my reflections on Instagram, 29 days into the year.  Here, my friends, is where I stand so far.

1) Disconnect more – I’ve done a great job of showing and giving my friends, family and colleagues the attention they deserve by being fully engaged and saying goodbye to multitasking or using my phone while I’m with them.  Sometimes, during the work day especially, it can prove difficult to focus on one task and not give into the temptation to multi-task, but I am getting better. In my parent life, I’d give myself a B in regards to how much time I give her my dedicated attention without my phone as I find myself so tempted to capture every giggle, laugh and roll.

2) Run a 5k, 10k & half – I’m signed up for a New York Road Runners (NYRR) 4 mile race in Prospect Park a month from now and this has helped keep me motivated to run two times per week! The runs haven’t been long, and in fact I had to listen to the Nike+ Run Club’s coached workout, Don’t Wanna Run Run during last Sunday’s run. As I’m slowly building up my endurance and cardio strength, I am finally craving runs and, in fact, woke up at 5:15 this morning to meet some local Brooklyn moms for a run. I’d call that progress versus where I was at the beginning of January! 

3)Survive a 90 min or double Flywheel Sports class on our Flywheel Fly Anywhere bike –  Since we now have a spin bike in our bedroom, it is hard to make excuses. While I owe you guys a full review, I’m still working my way through the various classes that are offered. I’ve found myself squeezing in the 20-minute classes frequently and pushing myself during the four song classes. On average, I’ve been riding three times a week and, as of this week, finally feel as if I’m starting to make improvements. Spinning and cycling do not come easy to me but, yesterday I did a 20 minute class that I took at the beginning of the month and saw a clear improvement in my stats and how I felt at the end of the workout!

4) Continue reading each night – I’ve been reading a lot of magazines recently and have kept up my goal of reading for at least 10 minutes and I’ve even added mediation using Headspace. Tonight, I’m looking forward to continuing Little Fires Everywhere.  

5) Practice yoga once a month – I took two wonderful hot power yoga classes this month at Heatwise and Body Alive. This was probably the easiest goal to achieve as the long hours at a desk combined with holding Katie each night had me craving deep hip and back stretches as well as chest openers. 

6) Blog two times a week – This has been harder than expected and I’ve been lucky to blog once a week BUT I’ve built engagement on Instagram! This was the goal that frustrated me the most this month because I have so many topics on my iPhone list AND I get constant requests from you all. I want to share my breast feeding journey, Katie’s monthly updates, how we found our nanny, our evening routine, my adjustment to life as a working mom and more but, I find that posts like those take a lot longer. My idea, in order to make them more manageable, is to attempt to tackle two per month. This month’s goal is Katie’s monthly update and my breastfeeding journey. 

7) Invest in my relationship with Bo – We enjoyed our monthly date night on Saturday at a Dumonet, new French restaurant in the neighborhood thanks to our amazing babysitter & friend Heather. As luck would have it, thanks to family visiting and schedules, we have date nights the next two Saturdays!

As I approach February, I feel great about saying goodbye to the month and keeping my focus as I head into February. The only thing I’m adding is stepping on the scale once a week to begin driving progress and accountability towards making a few healthy eating changes. I know the scale is just a number, but the once a week accountability has always been helpful for me and I’d like to feel a bit stronger and more confident in time for our summer beach trip!


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A Simplifed Life – Tips for Creating a Decluttered, Meanginful Home

Earlier this month, while sitting in the court house on my first day of jury duty, I started reading Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life. My friend Evann gave the book to me as a birthday gift while promising me that I would find myself highlighting, underlining and marking the pages as I read it.  Before receiving the book, I didn’t know anything about Emily Ley or her very succesful planners and website. In fact, I was in shock when I discovered that her planners typically sell out just days after being stocked online and that this year’s Simplified Planner isn’t available but there are waiting lists for next years – ALREADY! This, as well as promise, convinced me to read the book versus place it in my bedside table basket of “to read” books.

Unsure what to expect, I opened the book and within minutes, found myself writing notes in the margins and brainstorming how I could apply her techniques to our life.  As she described the feeling of overwhelm, chaos, and the stress and weight a cluttered, unorganized home can add to your life I felt as if she was looking inside our home.  I wanted to make the “physical and mental space for what matters.” I also appreciated that her concepts, recommendations and ideas for the most part, weren’t radical, expensive to apply or extreme. In fact, many of them are quite simple and can be applied to anyone’s life regardless of where you live or what your life is like. In fact, I laughed and shared with Bo the part of the book where she reminded readers that there is such a thing as over organizing and it isn’t necessary to run to The Container Store before starting the project as that often leads to more STUFF.

Before I share some pictures and tips with you all, let me share a bit about me and why this book was such a breakthrough.

Those closest to me know that while I often look organized from the outside, on the inside my life tends to be anything but that. My closets and drawers are always what I call “organized chaos” in that I can find things but if anyone is helping to put clothes away they are scared at what they see and give up before trying. This mess and chaos would often spill into our home and shared spaces such as diaper bags, drawers and closets. On the other hand, Bo’s closets and personal spaces such as his brief case and bedside table, are spotless and organized even during the craziest weeks. While this lifestyle may have worked for me before having a child, now it was driving me insane. Recently, I found myself venting to Bo that I couldn’t handle the mess anymore and needed a change, especially since we have a third person in our life these days. 


Reading this book, which I devoured in just two days, gave me the inspiration and confidence that even the most unorganized person could work to create a simplified life for myself and our family. The book is divided into ten key areas spanning topics like meal planning, personal fashion, parenting and home organization. Even the chapters where I didn’t think we needed much guidance, like personal finances, included at least a few golden nuggets that we could apply to our life. But, the chapters that inspired me the most were home organization and style. With this motivation, I engaged Bo on some of her simplest concepts and dedicated four full days to the process – three Saturdays and a Sunday.   Now, keep in mind, that it took us four full days because we conquered multiple areas – master bedroom, nursery, guest bedroom, pantry, and three closets. There were moments when it was overwhelming but, in the end, we have loved the results and have been able to keep and even improve upon the progress we made.


A Simplified Space & Simplified Style – Creating a Decluttered, Meangingful Home and Wardrobe/Beauty Routine

When given the opportunity to think about our home and jot down the areas of my life that felt “less than simple” I quickly identified my wardrobe, our linen/bathroom closet, and our guest room closet.  Bo agreed and added our two downstairs closets to his list of things that add stress to our life. Once we identified the areas we wanted to tackle we began what Emily calls the ruthless clean-out. The ruthless clean-out allows you the opportunity to see what you have, identify all the things you don’t need and create a home where you aren’t digging through duplicates, clutter and chaos just to find a pair of jeans, gloves, or a spare toothbrush.

My tip:  I would recommend doing this one space or room at a time versus the approach we took which very quickly led to chaos and the feeling of overwhelm.  

Here are just a few of her tips for the process:

  • Start with the area of your home that provides the most stress
  • Choose a space where you can put all the things you’re getting rid of that is OUTSIDE of the space you are working. We chose to use our upstairs balcony/hallway space to store the garbage bags, donation bags and things that needed to be put somewhere else.
  • Completely take out all the contents of the space. Yes, I took EVERY single item of clothing out of my closet before starting so I had a blank slate.
  • Do not fear or feel the need to fill the space.
  • Get rid of trash, duplicates, extras, unnecessary items, outgrown items, broken items, or things that you keep because you “may use one day.”  
  • Keep your favorites, necessary items, best items and treasured, sentimental items.
  • Try every item of clothing on and ensure it fits, is good quality and is one of your favorites. If it doesn’t meet this criteria donate it.
  • Ensure that you check expiration dates for beauty and medical items. You can find easy to reference guidelines online or in her book AND keep in mind that natural products tend to have a shorter shelf life.
  • Store travel size items in your travel bag so they are always ready for business trips or vacations.
  • Store like items together and have a clear place for everything. We found this to be very helpful for items that we found housed throughout our house like umbrellas, lint rollers, screw drivers, batteries, etc. We often forgot we had one or couldn’t find it and bought more. We now have FIVE packs of AAA batteries and FOUR small umbrellas. 
  • Immediately take your donations to Goodwill, Salvation Army or other local spot and throw the trash away as soon as possible. If you’re local, I’ve found that most of the Green Markets in NYC have a clothing donation area where you can easily take bags of clothing and get tax receipts.

My tips:

  • Since we hope to have a second child at some point, we put all of Katie’s outgrown items in vacuum bags and have them stored either in large wicker bins above our closet. My maternity and nursing clothes are also in these bins. The toys, gadgets or gizmos that she has outgrown but loved are taken apart and stored under our bed or loaned out to friends with the understanding that we will want them back when their children are done enjoying them. The only area where we kept duplicates were things that we use frequently such as toiletries, favorite kitchen ingredients, or cleaning items. 
  • I moved all of our treasured and sentimental baby items related to Katie into a closet drawer so they are organized and protected until I have time to put them into a baby book or other keepsake place. 
  • Certain items like business clothing, suits and formal dresses I donated to Dress for Success and Operation Prom instead of taking to the clothing donation area at our farmers market. There were certain clothing items and running gear that were either expensive or quite new that I sold via Instagram Stories. Otherwise, I donated things instead of taking the time to sell on Poshmark or other platforms as I found that idea to be overwhelming and not worth it. But, lots of friends LOVE using ThredUp, Poshmark or other sites. 
  • Once we organized our sheets and towels I did a few large loads of wash to deep clean these items so they felt fresh and new going into our closet.
  • Since our sheets were driving me insane, I asked for help via Instagram and discovered that the EASIEST way to keep sheets organized is to fold them and put inside the pillowcase! SO easy!

She also provides tips and tricks for keepingyour place simplified and maintained AFTER the initial process. Below are the ones that we’ve built into our life this month and have found very helpful.

  • Walk through the house with a basket at the end of the day and gather the clutter. Don’t just move it to another room but take five minutes to sort it and put it away or throw it out.
  • Empty trash cans and wipe down the surfaces once the kitchen is “closed.” I’ve also added a quick mop and vacuum of the downstairs in order to ensure our space is clean for Katie’s continued crawling practice. 
  • Do one load of laundry per day and do your best to complete the entire process – wash, dry, fold and put away. The smaller loads are far more manageable for us and have allowed us to stay on top of the laundry versus having piles of clean clothes taking over our sofa.

By the time we were done we donated twelve large bags of clothing, gave away three bags of duplicate home, baby and toiletry items that we don’t use or need leveraging the local moms group, and threw away lots of trash. We found three gift cards, one Christmas card from last year WITH a gift inside, and have found living in our house SO much easier since we can find everything and easily see what we have and don’t have.

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