How to help Breast Cancer Patients?

 How to help Breast Cancer Patients?

helping breast cancer patients

Finding out that someone you care about has breast cancer might be terrifying. You may be sad or anxious, and you may wonder how you might assist them in getting through it. Because of early detection and improved treatment, breast cancer mortality reduced by 40% between 1989 and 2017. Hearing a loved one say they have cancer is still heartbreaking. There's a reason we're speechless when we get such news: we still link the term cancer with a great deal of anxiety and a confrontation with our own death (Dr. Shanthi Gowrinathan, psychiatrist and psycho-oncologist).

You can make things simpler for your loved one and yourself following their diagnosis and during treatment by taking the right steps. Of course, not everyone requires the same level of support. Whenever appropriate, try to follow your friend's lead. Pay attention for cues and don't be hesitant to inquire about their needs or give a suggestion.

There are several things you may do to assist or support a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

  1. Practical Support

Many individuals desire to accomplish as much as they can while undergoing treatment. However, side effects might make it difficult to carry on with daily chores, and asking for assistance isn't always simple. It might be tough to know how to help at times. It is vital to consider what you can do and how much time you can spend in addition to what your friend or family member may want assistance with. By providing specific help, both parties will be aware of what is possible. Things you might offer to assist with:

  • Cleaning and vacuuming 

  • Washing and ironing clothes

  • Gardening 

  • Preparing meals for freezing

  • Transportation to and from hospital appointments

  • Babysitting

  • Driving children to and from school

Some people may be hesitant to accept help or may even be embarrassed by the support being provided. This can be upsetting at times, but maintaining a feeling of normalcy and continuing to do things even when it's tough is important.

  1. Emotional Support

When they learn they have breast cancer, most people are taken aback and feel a range of emotions, including anger, anxiety, sorrow, and despair. Feelings can shift from one day to the next, and even from one hour to the next. It's not always easy to know what to say or how to best help someone.

One of the most important ways of helping someone is simply being there with them and encouraging them to communicate how they're feeling. Don't be frightened of your friend or family member crying; it might be a helpful way for them to communicate how they're feeling. Holding hands or hugging them is a good way to express your support if it's appropriate.

If someone is upset about their diagnosis, they may vent their frustrations on you. This might be upsetting, especially if you're attempting to help them. But keep in mind that this is usually because they're angry about their disease, not because they're angry with you. Listening to a friend or family talk about how they're feeling might be tough or unpleasant at times, but it may be really helpful for them to do so.

  1. Taking care of yourself

This may seem confusing at first, but you need to look after yourself too. Supporting a friend or family member may be exhausting and distressing. You must take care of yourself in order to continue to help your friend or relative. It's vital to eat well, exercise often, get a decent night's sleep, and take some time for yourself, depending on how involved you are. If you're having trouble doing these tasks and feeling overwhelmed, tell a friend or family member. There are also a variety of resources available to you for additional support.

Tips for family or friends of someone with breast cancer

  1. If your loved one agrees, you might accompany them to their appointment and question the doctor about them.

  2. Be ready for changes in your loved one's mood and behaviour. Medications, treatment side effects, and stress can make them feel sad, angry, or fatigued.

  3. Encourage them to be active and to take care of themselves as much as they can. It will give them a sense of control.

  4. Don't forget to look after yourself as well. Make sure you get adequate sleep, eat well, and take time to relax. It will be easier to assist your loved one if you stay healthy.

  5. Also, seek the help of other family members and friends. They can deliver meals, or provide transportation to doctor's appointments. Most people will be grateful for the opportunity to help.

What won’t help

It's normal to feel at a loss for words when a friend is diagnosed with breast cancer. While simply being yourself and giving her your time might be really helpful, there are a few things that are unlikely to help:

  • Don't inform her about the most recent cure or treatment you've come across.

  • Don't worry her with your concerns or fears.

  • Don't mention her about other cancer patients' horror stories.

  • Don't give up on her or stop calling or visiting her.

  • Don't advise her how she should alter her diet or lifestyle. Getting out of bed in the morning may be difficult enough for her.

  • Don't urge her to "have a positive attitude." That may make it difficult for her to express her true feelings to you.

Considerations at workplace

Although she is likely feeling physical and mental anguish on some level, how a colleague is dealing with their illness is a personal matter. The best approach to assist your coworker will be determined by the sort of job she does, the type of treatment she is receiving, and if she needs or wants to work. Some women rush back to work because they want the normalcy and camaraderie that employment provides. Others require time off work in order to deal with breast cancer and its treatment.

Words matter

Though hearing bad news from a friend might be upsetting, experts advise that you keep the conversation focused on what your friend or relative needs. You never know where someone is in terms of their emotional or mental state, no matter how well you know them (Dr. Regine Muradian). You want to show your support but aren't sure how. Make sure you're being thoughtful and compassionate. Certain phrases may bring comfort to certain people while offending others. If you've had breast cancer, your friend may seek your advice, such as a referral for a specialist or a specific treatment plan. However, they also might not. 

Allow your friend to take the lead in the conversation and providing you with feedback on your approach Though there is no ideal thing to say, and everyone's requirements are different, asking questions, offering assistance, and just listening are all excellent places to start.

What you can say to a friend or relative with breast cancer:

  1. “Do you want to discuss it?”

  2. “I'm here to help you. I'm listening.”

  3. “What can I do to help you?”

  4. “That appears to be a wise option.”

What you shouldn’t say:

  1. “Everything will turn out OK!”

  2. “Just have a positive attitude.”

  3. “My aunt died after losing both her breasts.”

It's distressing to learn that a friend or relative has breast cancer. It's important to remember that your friend or relative requires your help, which might mean different things to different people. It's ideal if you can figure out where your friend is and respond accordingly. Listening, empathising, and asking questions are all good ways to start. Continue to gently check in if they decline your offers to talk or help. It's fine if you say something offensive. Allow yourself some grace and apologise. You're just human, after all. Then, ask as to how you may further support your friend. If you're having trouble, don't be hesitant to ask for help.





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