Three Ways to Help a Friend or Loved One Confronting a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
With one out of every eight women expected to confront a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, the odds are, sadly, fairly high that a friend or loved one of yours will at some point grapple with this disease. When an illness like breast cancer strikes, it can be difficult to know what to do and what to say. Often, we want to offer comfort and help, but we’re not sure how. That’s why we’ve put together this list of ways that you can help and be there for your friend or loved one as she gears up for what could be the fight of her life.
1. Be the Good Friend You’ve Always Been
Sometimes the “not knowing what to say” when a friend or loved one is confronted with a cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming. The fear of saying or doing the wrong thing can make people shut down and close off communication. But cutting off communication out of fear only serves to further isolate a person already dealing with an incredible physical, psychological, and emotional burden.
If you approach each interaction with love and compassion it is likely that you will naturally give your friend or loved one the support they need without having to do anything different. And remember, it doesn’t always have to be about cancer! Even though your friend is facing this burden, she will likely appreciate the normalcy of a regular conversation. But sometimes – maybe even all of the time – it will be about cancer, and one of the best things you can do is just listen. You don’t have to know the answers or give advice. Simply being a sounding board and a source of support can do a lot to alleviate the stress of dealing with the diagnosis.
2. Help to Lighten Her Load
Does your newly diagnosed friend have a job and/or a family to care for? Consider organizing a meal train for the days that she will be dealing with the “chemo flu.” What about school pick up and drop off for her children? Planning the logistics of getting her kids to and from sports, school, and after-school activities can be a huge stress reliever.
Also, if it’s something she would be comfortable with, consider taking up a collection for a weekly housekeeper to come in and do the big stuff around the house. Not having to worry about the state of the bathrooms can be a huge relief and a way to help your loved one direct her limited energy to appreciating each and every day with her family without the stress of a mess.
3. Offer to Be a Driver
Not everyone lives close to a chemo clinic, and when factoring in drive time, the treatments can easily take a full day. It’s not realistic for many to have just one person take multiple days off of work to be able to drive them to and from chemotherapy, so consider offering to be a driver for a day or more. You’ll have the opportunity to visit with your friend and be a real source of support, and you’ll help alleviate some of the stress from your loved one’s primary caregivers.
If you are the primary caregiver, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Cancer is stressful for everyone – not just the diagnosed individual. There is a high likelihood that you have a network of friends and family that are willing to help but are not sure what to do. This support group is ready and waiting for direction and would jump at the chance to be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Do you have a friend or loved one about to enter breast cancer chemotherapy treatment? Our Peace Love Totes are filled with items to make that first treatment productive. We are currently delivering to select Southern California cancer centers. For more information, and to apply for a Peace Love Tote, follow the link below:Request A Tote
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