When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to act. You may feel like you need to treat your relationship differently, but that might not always be the case. The most important thing is that you provide support during this difficult time. Studies have shown that peer support helps improve quality of life and increase likelihood of remission. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re discussing how to help a friend cope with their breast cancer diagnosis. Lending a helping hand can be just what someone needs to bounce back from a scary diagnosis.
Offer them some help
Radiation and chemotherapy can be extremely taxing on the body, leaving patients burned out and exhausted. The last thing one wants to do after a long day of treatment is cook. Drop off a hot meal so dinner can be on the table when they arrive home. Or bring some meals that can be put in the freezer. This will be helpful on days that they’re too sick to cook but need nourishment. Offer to give them a ride to treatment or other appointments. Chemo will often leave people too sick to drive. If they don’t have help getting to appointments, they may not be able to receive the proper treatment. Keep in mind, she probably won’t ask for help so you need to offer it.
Do your research
Unless you have a true medical background, or have been there yourself, don’t pretend like you know what they’re going through. Take the time to learn about their specific diagnosis. Not only will this show that you care, but it will help you relate to what they’re going through. Help them to understand that certain symptoms or side effects are normal.
Don’t only focus on their cancer
Do normal things too. Get your nails done or get massages. Schedule a girls night with movies and snacks. Sure, breast cancer is a big part of their life, but it’s not their whole life. Restore a sense of normalcy to their routine.
Help them find support through others
You may have other friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Reach out to them. Ask if they would be willing to provide support to your friend. Sharing doctors, or simple tips for how they managed will be extremely helpful.
Be there as a shoulder to lean on, or cry on
Cancer is a very scary thing. Sometimes your friend may just need to cry. It’s OK for her to be scared, and it’s OK for you to be scared too. But having someone who they feel comfortable sharing their emotions with will help with their recovery.
Start a GoFundMe page or have a fundraiser
Chemotherapy is very time consuming and taxing on the body. Due to this some women are unable to work, or they have to cut their hours. Some are forced to work through treatment in order to survive financially. With mounting medical bills this may be almost just as scary as their diagnosis. Help ease their mind a bit, provide them with some extra income for medical bills or for when they need to have time off work.
Give them something to look forward to
Plan a girls’ trip for when they’re feeling better or for when chemo is over. Ask her to be your bridesmaid or maid of honor in your wedding. Having something to look forward to will ignite her fire to fight.
It’s important to remember that cancer affects all races, sexes, and ages. At any moment someone you love may be diagnosed with breast cancer. Knowing these tips will help them to cope with their diagnosis and defeat the cancer for good.
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