7 ways to offer support and Jewish strength to friends or loved ones facing cancer

Support can look and feel different to different people facing cancer; each person’s needs and life circumstances are unique. (NoSystem Images / Getty)

When Shoshana Polakoff, 40, received an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis three years ago, the mother of three young children needed extra support. Her friends, family and Jewish community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan immediately stepped up.

They organized help with after-school childcare, packed school lunches for her kids and sent her little notes of encouragement while Polakoff endured trying cancer treatments.

“I felt pounds lighter and overwhelmed by the chesed that mobilized so quickly,” said Polakoff, using the Hebrew term for kindness. “And the practical help was such an incredible gift.”

Too often, however, friends and loved ones of cancer patients are at a loss for how to respond when someone close to them is diagnosed with cancer.

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