5 things you can do for someone with breast cancer
Whether a friend or a family member is newly diagnosed or in the middle of treatment, they need the support of loved ones. But, sometimes it can be hard for friends and family members to know how to show they care.
Women being treated for breast cancer are unlikely to respond to vague offers of help because they have a lot on their mind and often aren’t able to do the thinking for other people as well, so it’s good to offer specific help.
The McGrath Foundation’s Breast Cancer nurse Pip Bell shares five ways you can help support a loved one with breast cancer.
1. Special gifts
2. Learn to listen
3. Make a roster for dinner delivery or help in the home
Because people living with cancer are unlikely to respond to unclear offers of help, instead of saying ‘what can I do?’ you could offer to take the pressure off by organising a roster for dinner. It’s important to ask if the help is welcome and to call before someone delivers the food and explain that you could leave it outside the door so they don’t have to greet you to collect it if they are feeling unwell. People having surgery and undergoing cancer treatments often feel fatigued which causes their daily tasks to become difficult. You may like to set up a roster for light housework, dog walking or help with the children. By allowing her to have a few free hours it may give her time to recharge and maximise her emotional energy.
An app like Thrivor can help you find out exactly what you can do to help, and get together with others in their support network to cover off all the bases.
4. Know what not to say
5. Be honest
Some people have reported to us (breast cancer nurses) that the best thing anyone has said to them when they were sick was ‘I want to be a good friend to you through this but I don’t really know how, so if I do or say something thoughtless, please tell me’. Often friends have little experience with life-threatening illnesses so they’re not sure how to react, and so keeping the communication open and honest can prevent frustrations or miscommunication.