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How to Support a Breast Cancer Patient

Photo of loved ones wearing Pink to support breast cancer
By Tim Bodor

If you have a friend, colleague, or loved one who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it can be confusing to know exactly what kind of support your friend will need. Additionally, it is difficult to know how it will affect your relationship, or even where you can step in and offer a helping hand. So we’ve created this article, to help you with some useful tips and strategies. Remember that not everyone wants the same kind of support, and sometimes just because your support is being turned down right now doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated later. Remember to keep reminding your friend or loved one that you’re there for them and follow this guide for more suggestions.

Breast Cancer Patients Need Emotional Support

Depending on where your friend or loved on is on their journey, they may need a moment of normalcy, or they may need to wallow in their misery. Either way let them know that you’re there for them emotionally. You can even remind them that you’re there for them in the middle of the night just to listen. Other things that may help are:

  • Reminding your friend or loved on that you’re there to listen, even if they don’t want to say anything, let them know that you’re down for “people watching” in the park or simply sitting somewhere sipping coffee.
  • Many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have a lot of anxiety or worry. Let your friend or loved one know that you’re there to help them if all they want to do is play the “what if” game.
  • Simply be yourself and treat your friend the same way you would without the cancer diagnosis. This makes it easer and puts less pressure on worrying about what to say.
  • Offer to pick up some groceries or run errands if your friend lives close by. Perhaps you can make extra for dinner and bring it over, while your friend may not be hungry, her family probably will be.

Breast Cancer Patients Need Practical Help

If you are a friend of the family, or a caregiver yourself, then you know that it is very important to get help with things such as running errands, shopping, picking up prescriptions, and housework. Talk to your friend and let them know that you’re available to help or talk to your friend’s caregiver and let them know you’re happy to be a part of the support team. Even with professional respite care, family caregivers often need a helping hand to help with:

  • Shopping, packages, and errands
  • Driving to appointments and treatments
  • Housework and looking after pets, helping with laundry
  • Making meals and snacks that will help feed the family

Remember that the more people who are pitching in to help the family caregiver of a loved one with cancer, the more support the person living with cancer has. If you are the family caregiver of a loved one with cancer, remember that your loved one probably has friends who are willing to help, and professional respite care can give you much needed relief so that you’re able to help your loved one even better.

Things that Dont Help Breast Cancer Patients

One of the biggest fears that many people deal with when they have a friend or colleague who is diagnosed with breast cancer is not really knowing what to say or how to act. The best thing you can do is continue treating your friend just as you did before the diagnosis, then listening when they want to talk about it. Empathize when they worry and sympathize when they are concerned. Giving your friend the gift of your time is most beneficial, but there are some things that won’t help:

  • Don’t go on and on about the latest cures or treatments that you’ve heard about, she has a team of doctors giving her the best possible chance to survive, ask about this instead
  • Don’t burden your friend with your own fears and worries, they will have enough of these on their own, instead listen to her fears and worries and offer to help.
  • Don’t tell your friend horror stories about other people with cancer, this just causes anxiety, it doesn’t make them feel blessed to be where they are. Instead remember that what she’s going through is her own nightmare, and you’re there to hold her hand through the worst of it.
  • Don’t stop visiting or calling or going out to coffee. If she doesn’t feel like it, just keep rescheduling, don’t give up.
  • Don’t suggest changes to her lifestyle or diet, instead support any changes she makes on her own.
  • Don’t tell her how to feel, instead, remind her that you’re there to listen no matter how she feels.

Don’t forget that if you have a loved one who has currently been diagnosed with cancer of any kind that as a family caregiver you need to do the best that you can to stay healthy! Don’t forget to take time out of your caregiving schedule for your yearly well-woman visits and mammograms. If you’re not able to get away from your caregiving responsibilities, contact us for respite care services, we can take over for a few hours so you can take care of yourself. Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Sterling is here for you. It is always a great privilege to provide all of our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.

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