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.
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
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.
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.
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%.