"Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn't know possible."

~ Tia Walker

8 Ways to Support Someone with Breast Cancer

A breast cancer diagnosis affects not only the individual but family and friends as well. You are a critical part of your loved one’s recovery while she is on this difficult journey. There are many ways to offer encouragement, assistance, and a shoulder to lean on so you won’t have to say, “how can I help” without a few solid ideas to follow! Just know that you are part of her team because she loves you, and there are many ways you can express your love for her as you stand by her side. Here are a few helpful ideas from members of our H4TG sisterhood to get you started.

  1. Be available to listen and to offer a shoulder (and tissue) as needed. Let your friend lead the conversation. She may be tired of talking or thinking about the disease and may just want to chat (whether that is near or far) about everyday things. Be sensitive about what you say.
  2. Reach out to the primary caregiver. The serious illness of a loved one can be extremely stressful, so the caregiver needs your love, encouragement, and support along the way as well. If you are the primary caregiver, please remember to take care of yourself and allow others to help you.
  3. Offer to communicate the diagnosis to neighbors, colleagues, and others so she doesn’t have to keep bracing herself for the reaction each time she shares the news. Maintain communication on a site such as caringbridge.org to keep family and friends informed of your friend’s progress, thus reducing the calls and texts she receives.
  4. Accompany your friend to medical appointments and take notes so she can concentrate on her conversation with the doctor. Chemotherapy appointments are a great opportunity to hang out together since they last hours and are, well, boring. If you can’t be there in person, you can come along virtually thanks to technology!
  5. Organize others to prepare and deliver meals throughout treatment, especially following chemo days and surgery. Or to help with housework, gardening, or caring for children or pets. Lotsahelpinghands.com and mealtrain.com are useful online tools for coordinating meals and other needed household tasks.
  6. Pamper her! Help your friend relax, unwind, and have a taste of those things she enjoys most! Rejuvenating face or eye masks, some decadent hand cream, a subscription to a streaming service, dark chocolate, soft slippers, comfy PJs, and books are always appropriate. You can also take your friend out for tea, lunch, a movie, a concert, a manicure, a massage, a museum visit, or a girls’ night.
  7. Before treatment, throw a hat party to help her collect hats, scarves, and accessories. Collect items for her that she can take with her to chemo in a bag, like a blanket, pillow, water bottle, slippers, coloring books, and colored pencils – whatever you can think of to help her be comfortable and pass the time!
  8. You may think that once her treatment is finished your friend does not need as much support; actually, she may need you more than ever. The end of treatment can be tough as a woman tries to adjust to a life not dominated by medical appointments and procedures. While those around her are waiting for everything to go back to normal, she may struggle as she figures out her “new normal” after diagnosis and treatment. You can help by continuing to be there for her!

Ways to Care for Caregivers

Help them UNDERSTAND that although they cannot fix the diagnosis, their care is making a difference

REALIZE that their journey is difficult as they are on the outside looking in. Sit and just LISTEN to their feelings

ENCOURAGE them to step away from the Caregiver role and take time for their own self-care

Be Real

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Prioritize Self-Care

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Ask for Help

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Caring for caregivers


Camp Kesem: Children of parents with cancer can attend Camp Kesem free summer camps. 

Help for Cancer Caregivers: Helps cancer caregivers manage their own health and wellness needs. 

Men Against Cancer: Educates and empowers men to provide support for loved ones with cancer. 

Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer: Supporting mothers whose daughters have breast cancer. 

be real

It’s okay to feel it/think it/say it: cancer is life-altering! Every person – every family – experiences it differently, but the whirlwind of needs and changes (and all the feelings that go along with them) can be overwhelming.

Letting yourself acknowledge the tough emotions and bad days can actually be a relief for both of you. It also lets you see where more help and resources are needed and frees up your energy to pursue them, including emotional support for yourself.

Be kind to yourself, because – well – see the point above! This is a great time to tell your inner perfectionist or self-critic to take a vacation. Be gentle and forgiving; give yourself the kind of support you’d offer your best friend.

Also prioritize sleep, healthy eating, and exercise, and at least some small thing that feeds your soul. Caring for yourself is absolutely essential to being able to provide the best possible care to her.

Ask for help

You are not alone! Friends, family members, and coworkers (yours and hers) all want to help, but they probably don’t know how. Pick one person you trust and ask them to coordinate communications and support from your wider circle.

Be creative and don’t be shy! There are lots of ways that others can (and want to!) help: meal preparation, shopping, dog walking, childcare, kid transport, housecleaning, and yard maintenance are just a few of the possibilities. This allows your wider community to rally around your loved one in her battle, allowing you to be there for her 100%.

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Williamsburg, VA 23185
Contact us at info@hereforthegirls.org or at 757-645-2649

‌⁠If you are in a life-threatening situation, please do not use this website. Please use the list below for resources or call 911 to request crisis intervention, or other appropriate personnel, for immediate support. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255) Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741
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