Five Things Friday: Ways to Support Someone with Breast Cancer

Happy sick woman after chemotherapy and elderly mother hugging her

Today, most people with breast cancer are treated in an outpatient setting. They don’t have to stay in the hospital. During this time, they often need help, support, and encouragement. Studies have found that cancer victims with strong emotional support tend to have a more positive attitude and are better equipped to deal with the changes cancer brings to their lives. Here are five tips you can use to support your friend or loved one through their journey:

1. Listen with Your Heart.

When someone you know has breast cancer, it can be hard to know what to say or do. Sometimes the best way to show your support is by listening to them and trying to understand what they’re going through. Just listening to a person’s concerns or worries can be hugely helpful.

2. Be There.

Cancer can be very isolating. Just try to spend time with your friend. It may be difficult to visit while they are being treated for cancer, especially if they look and feel sick. Try to remember they are the same person you’ve always known. Relate to them in the same way you have in the past. And, remember:

  • Always call before you visit.
  • Be understanding if your friend can’t see you at that time.
  • Make short, regular visits rather than long, infrequent ones.
  • Understand if the family asks you to leave.

People going through treatment or recovering from surgery have a limited amount of energy and need to spend it wisely. Sometimes, they must turn down an invitation or cancel plans. Your visit will be appreciated when you do see each other.

3. Give Them a Break.

Cancer victims need a break from cancer. Take your friend out to lunch, meet for coffee or go for a walk if they’re up for it. Try not to talk about cancer. Give them a break. Keep the conversation focused on everyday life. If he/she wants to talk about cancer, they’ll bring it up.

4. The Little Things Matter.

People with breast cancer really do want your thoughts and prayers. Let your friend know you’re thinking of her by dropping a nice note or beautiful card in the mail. Even a text message can brighten a day. Here are a few little things you can do to show you care.

  • Call frequently. Even if you only have a moment, short, regular calls mean a lot.
  • Send brief, frequent notes or texts.
  • Ask questions.
  • Return their messages right away.

5. Errands and Projects.

While going through treatment, it may be difficult for your friend to physically complete projects and run errands. However, they may not feel comfortable asking for help. Offer to assist with everyday errands. Make a list of tasks you’re able to help them out with, such as:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Make lunch
  • Clean their house
  • Care for their lawn or garden
  • Baby-sitting
  • Pet-sitting or take their pet out for a walk
  • Care for their indoor plants
  • Take their child to practice or a music lesson
  • Go to the post office
  • Pick up prescriptions

As you spend time with your friend, you will learn more about how breast cancer is affecting their everyday life. They need your support. See how they respond to some of the suggestions listed above and know that different levels of support may be necessary as the treatment progresses. The support of family and friends is critical in their journey to recovery. Keep your eyes open for ways you can help and tailor your help to what they need. That’s the best way you can show your support.

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