Both Schmitt and Roppe are huge proponents of support groups, whether they be online or in person.
“It’s a real sisterhood,” Roppe says. “You know you’re not alone, and when you’re talking to people who have been there, you’re free to be honest and you can share things you can’t share with others.”
Roppe is currently still part of a Facebook group with 150 women who share the common thread of all having had triple-negative breast cancer.
The best support
Sometimes, friends just need to let you know they’re available, Roppe says. People would drop by, bring a magazine, drop off some chicken noodle soup or send an email to check up, she says.
Having people treat her “like a normal person” was very important. She recalls a moment when a friend asked if she had seen the previous night’s “American Idol.” When it’s not all about cancer and mortality, you can begin to feel human again, Roppe says.
During her journey through cancer, Schmitt says she and her husband learned to accept help from other people. About three times a week, whether it was a friend or family member, someone would bring over meals for the family, which includes sons Corey, 16, and Clay, 13, and a stepdaughter, Lindsay, 29.
Schmitt’s biggest pieces of advice for friends and family members who aren’t sure how to act in front of a cancer-stricken loved one? Don’t come with pity in your eyes, Schmitt says. And don’t talk about other people you’ve known who have died. That’s the last thing anyone with cancer wants to hear, she says.
Roppe recalled the very worst days when she was in the thick of chemotherapy and love from her kids carried her through.