Your first instinct when you hear about a friend, family member or loved one being diagnosed with breast cancer is to reach out to them and offer support. Even if you don’t know what to do, it will be a natural impulse. It is possible for your well-meaning desire and motivation to help and offer encouragement to do more harm that good. If you are unable to provide the best support, you might consider learning how you can do so. Here are eight different ways to provide emotional support for a breast cancer victim:
Do Your Research
Let’s face the facts: Not everyone is educated and able to understand breast cancer. Even doctors sometimes don’t know what to say when a friend or family member is diagnosed. You can find legitimate information and counseling sites about breast cancer. This is a great way to give encouragement. These organizations can help you offer support and emotional assistance to patients who are suffering from the disease.
Be There Before. During. And After Treatment
Be there for your loved ones throughout the process. This is another way that you can offer emotional support. There are many unknowns associated with cancer. Despite all the information available regarding breast cancer treatment options and survival, we don’t know what the future holds.
They will need your support and patience throughout this journey. It’s important that life in the aftermath of breast cancer treatment is not scary or difficult.
You Can Open Your Heart and Hear
You’ll be shocked when a family member or friend opens up about their latest breast cancer news. Don’t let this be about you and how you feel. You can help your loved one by sharing the emotional burden you are feeling.
It is important to listen with your whole heart and not just your ears. Let the person talk about their fears, worries, and feelings. Just letting them know you care about them and that you’re available to comfort and support them is all they need in this stage of their cancer journey.
Don’t Say It
Cancer patients’ families and friends want to be cheerleaders or problem-solvers. These aren’t always the right words for cancer patients. Some patients with breast cancer said they don’t want words like, “You are strong,” “You can do this,” or “You have my back.” But these words often make patients more miserable.
Instead of trying rallying someone with breast-cancer to be a warrior and fight the disease it would be more effective to tell them you are thinking of them and praying.
Let them know that you’re available whenever
Many cancer patients don’t wish to bother others. While they try to avoid inconvenience their loved ones, many cancer patients don’t wish to cause any distress. They can always call on you for emotional or practical support.
Along with the physical discomforts and emotional overwhelm that chemotherapy or the disease may cause, patients with cancer can also feel depressed. If you are serious and available to support them, you can encourage them to call you even if they feel depressed or awful, even if it is in the middle at night.
What Works in the Past
The chances are that you will be more supportive of the patient’s treatment than if you were a long-term friend, partner, and family member. You can look back on the past and recall how you dealt with difficult situations.
Perhaps you took a trip to the coast before your heartbreak. Maybe singing at a bar before your exam helped calm your nerves. Try to recall past experiences that can help you through these times.
Restore a Sense of Normalcy
Many cancer patients are bombarded by long-lost or distant family members, friends and colleagues. It is great to have the support of so many, but it can be exhausting talking about cancer every day.
You may find it helpful to talk about the everyday to help your loved one cope. Continue to hold a game-night every Tuesday so your cancer patient can forget all about it and feel normal, even if for a brief moment.
When you meet outdoors, don’t vent about things you’ve read online or other possible treatments, unless it’s your purpose. Instead, have fun with your children or continue to talk about the mundane.
Respect Their Privacy
Breast cancer patients often have many thoughts. This is especially true for women who are likely to lose one or both of their breasts. Try to be understanding, even though you may feel sorry about the situation. If your friend was used to you constantly calling your friend, unannounced, before the cancer diagnosis, you might consider changing that behavior. Instead, phone or text before you visit.
For those friends who live alone, it is possible to schedule a daily visit. Your friend requires time to rest and recuperate during treatments. Therefore, if your friend is sleeping or getting a rest, don’t be too intrusive.
The Bottom Line
Your family or friends may be able to support a breast-cancer patient. Your words of encouragement or pep talk might not be enough to calm your loved one down.
To provide meaningful, much-needed emotional support, open your heart, ears, and be willing and able to listen. Cancer patients can benefit from your time spent listening. This will allow you to learn about other ways you might be able to support them.