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How To Help Someone Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Dont Try To Fix Things

Mayo Clinic Explains Breast Cancer

Its a hard thing to do, sitting in someones pain with them, but thats what she needs from you right now. Its your natural instinct to want to make her feel better by saying things like, Youll be okay, or Youre so strong! You will beat this! or Youre only given what you can handle, or Just keep a positive attitude. Saying those things might make you feel better, but they wont make her feel better, because you dont really know that shell be okay. She is strong, but she doesnt really have a say in how this will turn out. She doesnt want to feel like its up to her to beat this. What she wants is for someone to sit with her in this uncertainty because its scaryand yes, its uncomfortable.

My niece is one of the only people who talked with me about the possibility of my death, and she was 7. No one else was willing to look death in the eye with me, but it was on my mind daily. Im not saying you need to have in-depth death talks, but be open to your friends feelings. Its okay if you dont know what to say as long as you are willing to truly listen. And trust me, she knows this is hard for you too, and she will appreciate your willingness to sit in it with her.

Demonstrating That You Care

  • 1Be a good listener. One of the best ways to show your support is by letting your friend know that you are ready to listen. Tell her that you understand that she may not want to talk about her illness, but that when she does, you’ll be there. Don’t assume that your friend already knows this. It’s always welcome to hear that someone is ready to be there for you.XResearch source
  • Be an active listener. Don’t just listen, participate in the conversation. Indicate that you are engaged by responding with nods of the head, maintaining eye contact, and making appropriate facial expressions.
  • Ask questions. Don’t interrupt your friend, but at appropriate pauses, ask questions to indicate that you are listening. Try saying something like, “So, you’ll be going for treatment three days a week, right? Will you have a set schedule, or will it vary?”
  • 2Acknowledge their feelings. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a very emotional experience. Make it clear to your friend that you understand that they will be going through a range of feelings. Don’t try to project your feelings onto them, and don’t try to neglect their emotions.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to source
  • Your friend might tell you that she is scared. For many people, it is a natural response to say something like, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” Try to avoid brushing aside your friend’s feelings, even though you mean well.
  • The Emotions They Might Feel

    You might find that their mood changes from one moment to the next. This is a normal response to a diagnosis of cancer. There are a whole range of emotions that they might experience including:

    • anger
    • grief

    Having an understanding of these emotions can help you to support them.

    We have a section all about cancer and emotions, which you may want to look at.

    Also Check: What Is The Sign Of Having Breast Cancer

    How Else Can I Help

    Looking for more ways to lend a hand to those with breast cancer? There are lots of ways to help out, show you care and make others aware:

    • Create an online calendar to organize meal deliveries, rides and other tasks to assist your loved one as he or she travels the breast cancer journey.
    • Bring together family, friends and coworkers to help support and care for your loved one through a caring social network and planner. CaringBridge provides sites where friends and family can stay connected and updated on someones health event and leave messages of hope and encouragement. The planner also gives you the power to set a community of support in motion by organizing meals, tasks and other helpful activities.
    • Join us in a Komen Race for the Cure® or More than Pink Walk, the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world.
    • Komen is lucky to have so many corporate partners in the fight against breast cancer Learn how you can participate in raising money and awareness for breast cancer by participating in these events or buying these everyday products.

    First Check In With Yourself

    Breast Cancer: A Visual Guide

    Hearing about a loved ones diagnosis can be shocking, heartbreaking, and everything in between. Whether they break the news in person or you hear it through the grapevine, give yourself space to process and acknowledge all emotions.

    Its important to remember that there will be times when your loved one will not want to talk about their diagnosis. Consider taking a moment on your own to learn more about their condition, whether it be talking with a family member or doing some research.

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    Ways To Support A Loved One Who Has Breast Cancer

    You just received a shocking phone call a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Now youre wondering: How can I help?

    Tina German, RN, CBPN-IC, a certified breast patient navigator at TriHealth, explains the best ways to show support for a family member or friend who is going through a breast cancer diagnosis.

    Bring Thoughtful Gifts Or Food

    When someone you know has cancer, giving them a gift can uplift their spirits and show them you care. This is particularly true if you bring a present that bonds you together. Whether its a funny movie, book, or a favorite snack, giving a loved one battling cancer something that makes them smile is always a good way to approach gift-giving productively. Remember to ask about dietary restrictions as well.

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    Breast Cancer: How Your Mind Can Help Your Body

    Emotional turmoil in response to a diagnosis of breast cancer can affect a persons physical health as well as psychological well-being.

    Breast cancer: How your mind can help your body.

    According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 230,000 women in the United States learn that they have breast cancer each year.1 Because many of them have no family history of breast cancer or other known risk factors, the diagnosis often comes as a devastating surprise. The emotional turmoil that results can affect womens physical health as well as their psychological well-being.

    This question and answer fact sheet explains how psychological treatment can help these women harness the healing powers of their own minds.

    Coping With Being A Cancer Caregiver

    Doing whatever it takes to help people living with cancer

    Giving care and support during this time can be a challenge. Many caregivers put their own needs and feelings aside to focus on the person with cancer. This can be hard to maintain for a long time, and its not good for your health. The stress can have both physical and psychological effects. If you dont take care of yourself, you wont be able to take care of others. Its important for everyone that you give care to you.

    For more information, see the NCI booklet When Someone You Love Is Being Treated for Cancer.

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    I Don’t Want Your Tuna Casserole But You Can Buy My Groceries

    “One of the coolest things my friends did was come into the kitchen and write down everything I liked to eat. They wrote down all the details like 1% milk and whole wheat bread and the brands I liked,” says Jodi Maslowski. “They typed it up and emailed it to everybody so that when they went to the grocery store for me, they knew what I would eat.”

    Maslowski’s friends also made a note of which detergent, cleaning supplies, and soaps she was using. “You have to be careful because your skin is so sensitive,” she says. “I was using Biotene and Cetaphil products. My friends understood that and only bought me what I could use while I was going through chemotherapy.”

    Getting Help For Depression

    Depression can be treated. Below are common signs of depression. If you have any of the following signs for more than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor about treatment. Be aware that some of these symptoms could be due to physical problems, so it’s important to talk about them with your doctor.

    Emotional signs:

    • fatigue that doesn’t go away
    • headaches, other aches and pains

    If your doctor thinks that you suffer from depression, they may give you medicine to help you feel less tense. Or they may refer you to other experts. Don’t feel that you should have to control these feelings on your own. Getting the help you need is important for your life and your health.

    Read Also: What Is Primary Breast Cancer

    What Impact Does A Breast Cancer Diagnosis Have On Psychological Well

    Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer can be one of the most distressing events women ever experience. And women may not know where to turn for help.

    Distress typically continues even after the initial shock of diagnosis has passed. As women begin what is often a lengthy treatment process, they may find themselves faced with new problems. They may find their personal relationships in turmoil, for instance. They may feel tired all the time. They may be very worried about their symptoms, treatment, and mortality. They may face discrimination from employers or insurance companies.

    Factors like these can contribute to chronic stress, anxiety, and depression.

    Your Friendship Is Enough

    What do I say to someone diagnosed with cancer? â The Lifestyle Brief

    You may begin to discount your ideas on how to help or feel like simply being present isnt enough. But more than any task you could carry out on your loved ones behalf, its your love they need the most. Helping your loved one feel supported and strong through her breast cancer journey is everything she needs to succeed.

    Learn more about AdventHealths whole-person approach to breast cancer care and support.

    Our Visitor Policy may have changed since this blog/article was posted. Please click here for an updated version of our visitor policies.

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    Don’t Tell Me How To Feel

    It’s never wise to presuppose how someone should feel at any stage of breast cancerâand that includes near the end of treatment, says Broderick.

    “It can be scary at the end of the treatment because the patient is going out from under the protection of the medical wing,” Broderick says. “Or a woman may not have gone through all of the stages of grieving over losing a breast or of having a cancer diagnosis at the beginning of the process and is doing it now at the end.”

    It’s not helpful to tell a breast cancer survivor she should feel happy, lucky, or fill-in-the-blank. Better to ask, “How are you feeling?” She gets to call the shots on how she feels and when.

    Money And Financial Support

    If you have to reduce or stop work because of breast cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.

    If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support:

    • if you have a job but cannot work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
    • if you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
    • if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance
    • you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income

    Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.

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    What You Can Do: How To Offer Support

    Some people find it hard to accept support even when they need it. Dont be surprised or hurt if your friend refuses help. Its not you. Its more about pride and their need for independence.

    • Provide emotional support through your presence and your touch.
    • Help the caregiver. In doing so, youll help your friend. Many people are afraid of being a burden to their loved ones.
    • Offer practical ideas on what you can do to help, and then follow through.
    • Assume your help is needed, even if there are others also helping out.
    • If your friend needs medical equipment or money for treatment, you can look into getting something donated or organizing ways to help raise money,

    Being A Good Listener

    I have breast cancer

    A good listener tries to be aware of someones thoughts and feelings as much as they can. You dont need to have all the answers. Just listening to a persons concerns or worries can be hugely helpful.

    A good listener tries to really tune in and listen to a person in the moment. Listening is an important part of providing emotional support.

    Here are some tips on how to listen well.

    • Try to keep the setting private, relaxed and with few distractions.
    • Maintain eye contact but dont stare.
    • Let the person with cancer lead the conversation and try not to interrupt.
    • Give your full attention to what they are saying.
    • If youre finding it difficult or upsetting dont change the subject say how you feel, this can prevent any awkwardness.
    • If they cry, dont try to cheer them up. Reassure them that its OK to be sad and that its a normal response to whats happening to them.
    • A friendly touch of the hand can help but if they pull away give them space.
    • Try not to give advice unless they have asked for it.
    • Dont use humour unless they have used it themselves.
    • Silences are OK, dont feel like you have to fill them with words.

    This video has top tips from people affected by cancer on how to listen to someone with cancer. It is 54 seconds long.

    How to listen to someone with cancer – Top tips from patients

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    What You Can Do: Errands And Projects

    Many people want to help friends facing a difficult time. Keep in mind that wanting to help and offering to be there for your friend is what matters most.

    • Take care of any urgent errands your friend or the caregiver needs right away.
    • Run an errand for the caregiver its as helpful as an errand for your friend.
    • Your friend may appreciate it more if you take care of frequent, scheduled errands, rather than fewer ones that take a lot of time.
    • Look for ways to help on a regular basis.
    • Plan projects in advance and start them only after talking with the caregiver.
    • Include the person in usual work projects, plans, and social events. Let them be the one to tell you if the commitment is too much to manage.
    • Check before doing something for your co-worker with cancer, no matter how helpful you think you are being. Keep them up-to-date with whats happening at work.

    Shower Them With Heartfelt Encouragement

    This can be a tricky one because its really easy to not know what to say. But most likely, your diagnosed friend isnt looking for a bunch of to-dos or wise advice that makes them feel like theyre responsible for their diagnosis. The best kind of emotional support focuses on who they are, what they mean to you, and how youre there for them. You can make this a regular thing too, like a small note of encouragement each day or each week!

    If youre concerned about putting your foot in your mouth, check out this post and this video on what not to say.

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    How To Write To Someone Who Has Been Diagnosed With Cancer

    This article was co-authored by Klare Heston, LCSW. Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker based in Cleveland, Ohio. With experience in academic counseling and clinical supervision, Klare received her Master of Social Work from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983. She also holds a 2-Year Post-Graduate Certificate from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, as well as certification in Family Therapy, Supervision, Mediation, and Trauma Recovery and Treatment . This article has been viewed 558,603 times.

    If someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, it can very hard to know what to say or how to express yourself. You will want to show concern, as well as expressing your support and encouragement. Writing a letter can be a good way to approach this, as you will have time to carefully choose your words. The tone of the letter will depend on your relationship but aim for a letter that expresses how you feel directly and clearly.

    Ways You Can Help A Young Woman Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

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    Editors Note: This post was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

    Hearing someone you love has been diagnosed with breast cancer can leave you feeling helpless. You may not know what to say or understand what theyre going through, but there are ways you can lend a much needed helping hand. Here are 15 ideas to help get you started.

    1.) Stay in touch.Even when you dont know what to say, keep in touch. Send a card, drop an email or text. Just saying, I am sorry you have to go through this, but I am thinking of you can make a difference. Continue reaching out even after treatment is over as they begin their new normal, which is often scarier than the initial treatment phase.

    2.) Keep people updated.Keeping family and friends informed can be overwhelming, offer to take on that role. MyLifeLine.org provides a free service for cancer patients, where you can quickly post the latest information and loved ones can leave notes of support.

    3.) Help get dinner on the table.This can be something you prepare or pick-up. Be sure you ask if there are any foods to avoid. Gift cards to favorite restaurants also work. You can easily help organize meal deliveries with an online scheduler like Lotsa Helping Hands where people can sign up to bring meals. If theyre not up for visitors, grab a cooler for them to place by the front door.

    10.) Make airport runs.Taking relatives to/from the airport can be a lifesaver.

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