Approximately 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer throughout the course of their lives. It could literally happen to any of us.
Thanks to the increased awareness over the past years, more women are getting their routine mammograms, which is helping them catch the cancer early. And when detected early, the cancer is typically easier to treat, giving women a much higher survival rate. But this in no way means that the diagnosis — early or not — is easy to deal with.
Since breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, it’s likely you know someone affected by the disease, and when you do — it can be hard to know what to say or do to show your support.
Here are 5 ways you can support your loved one after diagnosis and throughout treatment and recovery:
1. Stay Connected
If you’re unable to visit frequently, prioritize other modes of contact like calling, texting, emailing or sending a card. When someone you know has cancer, regular check-ins improve their mental health and increase their well-being. Try your best to respond quickly whenever they reach out. And listen intently with any requests or questions they might have. When you’re done with a call or text, let them know that you look forward to your next conversation.
2. Lend a Helping Hand
Lending a hand with everyday tasks is another great way to help a loved one with breast cancer. Start by inquiring if they need assistance with anything or ask specific questions to learn where they need help. Cooking meals, grocery shopping, doing laundry, or picking up kids from school are a few ways you can help a loved one feel less overwhelmed, while they stay focused on recovery.
3. 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 or gives them hope for better days ahead. A home-cooked meal — especially one that requires no prep time or extra work — can also be a big source of comfort. Casseroles may seem cliché, but they’re a popular choice for good reason. They heat up nicely and can provide multiple meals from one pan. Uplifting notes or funny cards can also really help. Put your happy thoughts into action through cards, quilts, notes, flowers, balloons — anything you know your loved one will appreciate. Here are some of our top recommendations for gift giving during this difficult time.
4. Find Time for Fun
Cancer treatments take up a lot of time and energy for those going through it. So much so, they often forget what life was like before they became a patient. Little activities like walking around the neighborhood or getting a manicure can help them feel normal again. Plus, it gives you both a chance to catch up on life and spend some quality time together. Even activities like a stay-at-home movie night can help bring back a sense of joy and take their minds off of their cancer treatment for a few hours.
5. Go With Them
A cancer patient’s time is consumed by doctor’s visits and treatment appointments. Give their daily caregiver a break and offer to drive them to an appointment or be their chemo buddy. Sitting together in a waiting room or during chemotherapy can really strengthen your bond and make your loved one realize they are not alone in their fight.
When it comes to offering help and support, remember that everyone is different. Don’t take offense if your loved one turns down your offers. Everyone heals differently, and just knowing you’re thinking about them can be a big comfort.
And of course, please take care of YOURSELF as well — by scheduling a mammogram!
Don’t know where to start? Click here to learn everything you need to know about the scheduling process. Remember — you can’t help others unless you yourself are healthy, so please prioritize your health and schedule an appointment with your doctor this week. It might just save your life.