Hearing news about someone who’s going through breast cancer can be difficult. There’s no question about it: cancer is frightening. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it can be challenging to find the right words to say to them or even the right things to offer as help to them. Studies have shown that cancer survivors with strong emotional support are more likely to adjust better to the changes cancer brings, have a more favourable perspective, and have a better standard of life.
If you want to be in support of someone going through breast cancer but have no clue how here are 4 ways to show support to breast cancer patients. There are some suggestions for listening, talking with, and being around them. Communication, and tailoring your help to what they need and appreciate is the best way to support them.
1. Talk To Them
When talking to someone with cancer, the essential thing is to listen, and understand how they feel. Let them know that you’re open to talking to them whenever they want. Or, if they do not feel comfortable opening up at that time, that’s OK too. Don’t make hurtful remarks, judge or try to alter the person’s emotions or actions. Here are some examples of what NOT to say:
- “You don’t look sick”
- “Everything happens for a reasons
- “I’m sure you will be fine”
Some people with cancer might talk about death or worry about their future. You don’t always have to respond but be ready to lend a listening ear. You’re not alone if you don’t know what to say to someone who has breast cancer. But most importantly, you can express your interest and concern and offer your support. Sometimes, the easiest expression of concern can be significant to them. Try to make your response honest and wholehearted. Here are some tips: “If you would like to talk about it, I’m here”
- “How have you been?”
- “I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers”
- “Do you want to talk about it?”
- “I’m not sure what to say, but be assured that I will be there for you”
- “I'm sorry that you are going through this”
Using humour can also be an effective way of coping. It is another approach to showing support and encouragement. This can be an alternative to relieve stress and take a break from the severe environment. Never make insensitive humour; unless you know the person with cancer can handle and appreciate the joke. Let them take the lead and you can surely join them in a good laugh.
2. Pay A Visit
Going through breast cancer can be isolating. Spend some physical time with them but most importantly, ask permission or call them before you visit. Be understanding if they can’t meet you at that time. Try to visit them other than the weekends or holidays, when other people may visit them. When visiting them, share the music they enjoy, watch their favourite shows or movies and do all the activities that they enjoy. When initiating a conversation, talk about interests, hobbies or other topics that are not associated with cancer. They sometimes need a break from chatting about the illness. Offer to bring their favourite snacks, they will definitely appreciate the little things. Remember, before visiting them, ensure that you are healthy and do not visit if you are sick since people with cancer treatment have a compromised immune system. Make future plans with them, this gives your friend/relative something to look forward to, especially because treatment can be long and arduous.
3. Send Them a Gift
Gifting someone who has breast cancer can also be a great way for you to show your support and appreciation. Look for things that are practical or gifts that they may enjoy or brighten their day. You may want to keep your gifts fun, interesting, serious or fun depending on what they would enjoy or need the most at the moment. Some suggestions for the gifts:
- Soft or silly socks
- Bright, soft towels
- Pyjamas or robe
- Favourite or unusual snacks
- Self-care items; facial masks, diffuser, hand lotions
- Audiobooks, Kindle
- Balloons or flowers
- A heartfelt, handwritten card
- All Things Delicious Pink Box
While these are some of the suggested gift ideas for them, always remember that they are going through a tough time. Be there for them as your presence and support go a long way.
4. Offer Practical Support
You can also offer them practical support. You might want to check in with your friend or loved one and ask if there is anything that they need help with. Offer your help but do keep in mind that they might not want help or find it hard to accept it. Respect their decision and try not to take this personally. Let them know that you are there for them, whenever they need you. When offering help, make sure that you are available to communicate. Here are some practical support ideas:
- Drive them to their treatment and appointments
- Help with chores
- Offer to do some grocery shopping
- Offer to fetch their kids from school or daycare
- Bring them lunch or dinner and stay for a chat; check on them
- Run any errands that they might need
- Go for a walk together
- Help out with work
Battling breast cancer is no simple feat. When a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, knowing what to say and do may be hard for us to project. Nonetheless, it is important that we are always there for them, supporting them through tough times.
This October as we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness, All Things Delicious has pledged to donate 10% of any Pink Products to the Breast Cancer Foundation. YOU can also play a part by purchasing our Pink Box; gift it to your mom, girlfriends or relative and start a conversation. Remember, if you are above 40 years old do get yourself checked.