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,
Looking For More On How To Track Side Effects
Cancer.Net offers several resources to help you keep track of your symptoms and side effects. Please note that these links will take you to other sections of Cancer.Net:
- Cancer.Net Mobile: The free Cancer.Net mobile app allows you to securely record the time and severity of symptoms and side effects.
- ASCO Answers Managing Pain:Get this 36-page booklet about the importance of pain relief that includes a pain tracking sheet to help patients record how pain affects them. The free booklet is available as a PDF, so it is easy to print.
- ASCO Answers Fact Sheets: Read 1-page fact sheets on anxiety and depression, constipation, diarrhea, rash, and immunotherapy side effects that provide a tracking sheet to record details about the side effect. These free fact sheets are available as a PDF, so they are easy to print, fill out, and give to your health care team.
The next section in this guide is Follow-up Care and Monitoring. It explains the importance of check-ups after you finish cancer treatment. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
What You Can Do: Gifts
Look for small, practical things your friend may need or just enjoy. Think about what their average day is like and what might make it a little better. Its always good to laugh and smile, too, so look for fun things for your friend.
- Make sure gifts are useful right away. Small gifts given frequently are usually better than large, one-time gifts.
- Give a gift to the caregiver its as welcome as a gift to your friend.
- Insist that a thank-you note is not needed.
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Can Psychological Treatment Help The Body Too
Absolutely. Take the nausea and vomiting that often accompany chemotherapy, for example. For some women, these side effects can be severe enough to make them reject further treatment efforts. Psychologists can teach women relaxation exercises, meditation, self-hypnosis, imagery, or other skills that can effectively relieve nausea without the side effects of pharmaceutical approaches.
Psychologists can also empower women to make more informed choices in the face of often-conflicting advice and can help them communicate more effectively with their health care providers. In short, psychologists can help women become more fully engaged in their own treatment. The result is an enhanced understanding of the disease and its treatment and a greater willingness to do what needs to be done to get well again.
Psychological treatment may even boost womens chances of survival. In one study, for instance, a was associated with longer survival in patients with metastatic breast cancer.4
Be An Empathetic Listener
“The best thing you can do is ask the question, ‘How are you?’ Then LISTEN to the answer. Talk about the hard thingsor dont, if that is what your friend needs.” Christine T.
If someone starts talking about their cancer experience, don’t try to redirect them to “happier” topics. Instead, actively listenand don’t try to fix the situation or convince them to feel differently. Breast cancer is, in fact, terrible, and it’s okay if all you can offer is your constant love and caring presence.
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Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer
Women who have symptoms usually begin by seeing their GP. They will examine you and refer you to a breast clinic. You should get an appointment within 2 weeks.
Some women are referred through the NHS breast screening programme. Breast screening is a way of finding breast cancer at an early stage, when it is too small to be felt or seen.
A Meal Delivery Service For Making Dinners A Little Easier
Unfortunately, life doesnt get put on pause when you go through chemo, and patients still have to go through basic, everyday things like cooking dinner. As you can imagine, that can be exhausting, which is why a subscription to a food delivery service can be incredibly helpful.
One of the most helpful gifts I received was a box of Omaha steaks, Nora Mastrippolito, a breast cancer survivor, tells SELF. A grocery delivery service gift card can also go really far, Rafte says. Your tastes can change dramatically during chemo, so it can be helpful to let the patient pick out what they want, she explains.
Shop various packages from Omaha steaks here, or check out these great meal-kit delivery services if the person youre buying for loves to cook.
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Helping A Friend After Mastectomy
QUESTION: On Monday, May 21, my dearest friend is having a mastectomy. This will be her third attempt to stop the cancer. I will be staying with her the following weekend and would like to know what is the very best support I can give her emotionally, physically, spiritually. My mom died of breast cancer 27 years ago, and I keep remembering the horror of her pain.
ANSWER: I am sorry to hear of your friend’s struggle with breast cancer, and to learn of your mother’s battle with the disease. Your friend’s situation is a painful reminder of losing your mom to this terrible illness. Hopefully sooner than later-with a lot of hard work-we can make this disease a thing of the past.
You are already supporting your friend in wonderful ways. The best support is just to be there, to listen, to be unconditional, to hold her hand, rub her back, go for a walk when she’s ready. For you and for her, try not to transfer your mother’s experience. Thank goodness, advances have been made. Less suffering and longer survival are more possible today. Your friend needs a safety net-just be there and love her.
Anne Rosenberg, M.D.
Dealing With Changes To Your Body
A diagnosis of breast cancer may change how you think about your body. All women react differently to the physical changes that happen as a result of breast cancer treatment.
Some women react positively, but others find it more difficult to cope. It’s important to give yourself time to come to terms with any changes to your body.
Want to know more?
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Continue To Check On Them After Recovery
Breast cancer is a long road the timeline from diagnosis to treatment can last more than a year. And even though many people may rush in to help at the beginning, some will check in less and less frequently over the course of a patients recovery. Even after your friend or loved one has fully recovered , be sure to send them texts or call them to see how theyre doing and whether or not they need any additional support. After all, the transition from treatment to normal life can be jarring, and your check in may be the thing they need to help them get back on their feet.
When The Person You Love Has Cancer
It is incredibly important for cancer patients to have a strong support system when going through what is most likely one of the hardest times of their lives, and just being there can do wonders. This is exactly what Robin Roberts plans to do for her partner.
She and I have been together almost 17 years, Roberts says, and have helped each other through our challenges, like my journey with cancer.
She adds that it is my turn now to be there for her like she was for me. And that means Ill be away from GMA from time to time, like this morning as she starts chemo.
Illness, including cancer, is an experience that can surely take an emotional toll on the patient, but it can also take a toll on a partner or spouse, as well as their relationship.
This is something actress and melanoma survivor Jill Kargman can attest to as cancer was a true test of her relationships strength. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Kargman says the disease is a great way to find out if youre with the love of your life or a shithead.
I think it presses the fast-forward button on getting to the bottom of that answer, because a lot of people in middle age are kind of at a crossroads, waiting for their kids to fly the coop, Kargman says. I think if youre with someone who is not supportive and kind of emotionally checked out or doesnt tell you youre still beautiful with that, this might not be your person.
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Inspiring Tees That Cheer You Up
During my cancer treatment, my family had t-shirts made that said, Montana Strong and all wore them to surprise me one day. It was one of the greatest gifts I received just knowing that so many people were rooting for me and cheering me on kept me going on my hardest days. Another favorite T-Shirt isMe: 1, Cancer: 0, which I found on Amazon.com .
Robin Roberts Battled Breast Cancer Too
In 2007, Robin Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to use her platform to build awareness around breast cancer screening and treatment, and she battled the disease in the public eye.
On top of her breast cancer battle, Roberts had to have a bone marrow transplant to treat her MDS a rare type of blood cancer that may have been brought on by her breast cancer treatments.
The morning news anchors efforts to spread breast cancer awareness actually resulted in her identifying her own breast cancer. In preparation for a story about the importance of early detection in breast cancer, Roberts performed a self-check at home and, to her surprise, she discovered a lump. Roberts proceeded to go through surgery to remove the cancerous tumor.
In a previous interview discussing surgical options for treating cancer, Dr. Ann Partridge of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute explains how she evaluates a patients treatment path.
When I talk to a woman who comes to me and she has breast cancer, I evaluate what the standard options for treatment for her are, which typically include cutting out the cancer, which is either a lumpectomy if you can get it all with just a little scooping around of the area thats abnormal, she says, or a mastectomy for some women, meaning taking the full breast because sometimes these lesions can be very extensive in the breast.
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My Aunt Lost Both Her Breasts And Died
This may seem obvious, but sometimes we blurt out a negative story in the shock of the moment. Try to take a moment to pause before responding with something like this.
Thats just setting people into an alarm state, and thats not helpful, says Muradian.
Though your concerns are valid, they wont help your friend.
If Someone You Know Has Cancer How Should You React
First off, if you learn that someone you know has cancer, whats the appropriate response?
Kim explains that there isnt one right response. You should consider the age, personality, stage of cancer, and other factors when the subject first comes up.
Importantly, you should convey empathy and concern not panic and fear.
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Gather A Support Network
A variety of support groups are available to individuals living with breast cancer, as well as for individuals supporting a loved one with breast cancer. This is one of those times where you cant do everything alone. Ensure that you have a positive group of supporters surrounding and uplifting you as you care for your loved one and dont take on more than you can realistically do. Joining a support group is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of strength which will be invaluable to you and your loved ones throughout this difficult time.
Moving On Can Be Hard
Treatment is over, and there are no signs of cancer. Thatâs great news, but some people still may have some mental healing to do. Your loved one may show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, like not sleeping well or having crying fits. They may constantly check for lumps and bumps. Instead of telling them to âget back to normal,â urge them to talk to their doctor. Medications, therapy, and other treatments can help.
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Spare Some Time To Help Those Close To The Person With Cancer
Dont forget those also affected the partner, children, parents, best friends, carers. Think about what you might be able to do to offer support to them.
Check in with them and be positive they do not want to hear negativity either.
Listen to them, let them open up to you, offer counsel if you can. Offer support and kindness and someone they can unburden their feelings and fears on so they dont bottle it all up.
These kind of things go a long way with how to support a friend with cancer.
Ill take this opportunity to tell you all how absolutely, wonderfully amazing my husband has been throughout this whole process. I always knew he had strength but with me being the, ahem, bossier of the two of us he probably didnt always get a chance to show just how strong he could be. I love you very much Mr M and honestly you amaze me constantly with your love and support and understanding. I digress!
The three biggest things I suppose Im aiming to achieve by blogging about my cancer journey is raising awareness to all who might be reading and encouraging them to do all they can to not be in the position that Im in.
Check your boobs. Women and men. Check each other boobs go for your lives.
Secondly, I want to try my best to take the fear out of a cancer diagnosis. Not that Im not scared because of course, I am. But Im also feeling so positive and hopeful and Im focusing on healing myself.
Listen And Be Present
It is important to be a good listener. Someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer is afraid, angry and uncertain. Listening to these fears and being present with them, even in silence, can be a source of great strength for the person fighting cancer. Allowing them to express their anger and fears also demonstrates that you will be there to support them through it all, rather than abandoning them when times get tough.
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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.
Sex Life And Fertility
Breast cancer treatments can have a direct effect on your sex life. In younger women some treatments may also affect being able to get pregnant .
For example, surgery may affect how you think and feel about your body which can affect your sex life. It can take time to adjust to changes to your body. If you have a partner, it can help to talk openly with them about your feelings. If any difficulties do not improve, ask your breast care nurse or doctor for advice.
If you have not been through menopause your doctor or nurse will advise you not to use contraception containing hormones. Women thinking of getting pregnant in the future will usually be advised to wait for 2 years.
If doctors think your treatment may affect your fertility, it may be possible to remove eggs from your ovaries before treatment starts. This may mean you can have fertility treatment in the future.
Fertility issues can hard to cope with. Some women may find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor.
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Treat Her With Little Surprises
Although material things really arent important, they can make a huge difference to someones day. Especially when they are going through such a hard and traumatic time as breast cancer treatment.
Cheer your Breastie up with little treats and gifts to show her how loved she is and to just make her smile. Even if only for a minute. Make a note of all the days shes going in for treatment, and choose a little gift for her to take with her, or leave for her when she gets home. Some good lotion to help with dry skin, cozy socks to help her feel comfortable, a book shes wanted to read forever, a beautiful bunch of colorful flowers, or anything else thatll make her day just a little bit brighter.