How to Support
Learning that someone close to you has been diagnosed with breast cancer can be rough, but your help and accompaniment during this difficult time can really make a difference through their journey. Studies have shown that women who have had limited support from their loved ones after their breast cancer diagnosis, had higher risks of their breast cancers coming back, and some even had higher risks of death. What this means for women with breast cancer and their family or friends is that their assistance can have a positive impact on their disease.
1. Offer your help instead of asking if they need it.
Many women might find it hard to ask for help but you can make it easier by offering to do things for them. Instead of asking “what can I do for you?” say for example “I can do your grocery shopping for you” Helpful acts can often ease the anxiety of finding the right words of support when facing a loved one’s cancer diagnosis.
2. Keep in touch and listen.
Keep in contact by sending them messages or making regular phone calls to catch up.Cancer patients often have many visitors when they are first diagnosed, but as the treatment continues they can feel like people has forgotten about them. Make sure you check on them throughout their treatment and offer your support by listening to them regularly.
3. Accompany them to appointments.
Some treatments are hard on the body making driving difficult so getting to doctors’ appointments can be difficult for patients. Offer yourself to drive them to their consultations or if you can’t personally take them, offer to send them an Uber, Lyft or taxi cab.
4. Support and listen to her partner.
Even though most of the support during breast cancer diagnosis might be focused on
the patient, her partner might also need to be listened to and supported. This person
may be going through a difficult time so you can help them by letting them know they
are appreciated and by listening to their concerns.
5. Help with her finances.
During treatment personal costs can often increase: for example gas bills to assist to the hospital, hospital bills, childcare and other things so if the household budget is already tight, then this can add to the family’s stress. Often women with breast cancer have to step back from paid work as they may feel unwell, tired or have to travel for treatment. If appropriate, ask your friend how you can help them financially. By assisting in this way, you can help relieve some of the pressure and anxiety over this time.