Hearing that a friend or loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer can come as a huge shock. It’s
never something you want or expect to hear, and you may be dealing with a wide range of emotions. But
you also want to be there for that important person, and support them through this time. After all, they’re
the ones who have to go through the treatments, the uncertainty, and the fear. It’s your job to do whatever
you can to help them through the process. It’s upsetting that so many thousands of people deal with breast
cancer diagnoses each year, but because of that there’s tons of research and resources available to show you
the way. Head to the bookstore or talk to a professional for ongoing advice, but here’s a few ideas for
how you might help a friend or loved one deal with breast cancer.
Keep your own feelings in check- they’re scared enough as it is. Don’t make it worse by showing up
for a visit like you’re going to a funeral. You’re certainly worried about them, but the last thing you want
is to make a hurtful comment because you haven’t dealt with your emotions. Before you see your friend or
loved one, be honest with yourself about your feelings about cancer. Did you lose someone close to you?
Have you had any scares yourself? Make sure your emotions are clear before you see your friend, and it
will go better for both of you.
Open your ears. Women tend to process concerns by talking them out, so allow your loved one the space to say whatever she needs to say. Your job is to be a wide open and receptive ear for whatever they are dealing with. Stay engaged, and ask questions that help them clarify or open up about their feelings. And keep the advice to yourself, at least at first. They’ll have the rest of their lives to hear opinions about breast cancer, but they may only have you to truly listen to them.
Be present. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your friend or loved one is simply ‘be there’. Cancer
can be incredibly isolating. No matter how many people they may have in their lives, it can feel so
overwhelming, like no one else understands. So do what you can to be there for them. Offer to bring them
to their medical appointments and act as a voice on their behalf. Or just take them somewhere out of their
element, so they can spend a few moments thinking of something else.
Take care of the planning. Sure, you may have told them that you’re there for them if they need you. But
your friend may not know how to ask for help. So take it out of their hands and do something concrete to
show them your support. Make them dinner and bring it over, or call to see if they need anything the next
time you’re in the store. Remember, it’s not always about buying breast cancer gifts or showing up with
the latest statistics or breast cancer information. Sometimes the simplest thing, like bringing over some
homemade soup, can make a huge difference.