In the UK, 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every single year. Unfortunately, this means many of us will have a loved one who receives this diagnosis.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to offer some guidance on how you can support your loved one through this illness. While you can’t do everything, you can act as a pillar offering your reassurance and help whenever possible. This can help your loved one feel less alone and give them a solid base. This means they can focus on working with their medical team to overcome breast cancer.
Being open and approachable lets your loved one know that you’re there for them. It’s okay to feel unsure of what to say or feel a little uneasy around the subject. Letting them know you are available gives them the opportunity to approach you for support.
You can’t always predict how your loved one will feel, or how their emotions will shift as they come to terms with their diagnoses. Be prepared for your loved one’s mood and behaviour to change unexpectedly throughout their diagnosis. The stress of cancer can make them feel depressed, angry, and tired. You can accommodate for this by allowing them the time and space to experience these emotions, even if you aren’t used to them.
It’s their choice if they want to talk about their cancer or not. Be open to the fact that they may not want to have conversations that lead towards their cancer, or any surrounding topics.
Everybody deals with their diagnosis differently. The best way to be there for your loved one is to listen. You don’t have to have all of the answers, but being present and aware can be enough to help support your loved one.
“I’m here if you want to talk” can go a long way. Providing your loved one with the opportunity to share allows them to talk about their wconcerns. You won’t have all of the answers, but listening provides a means for them to unload their thoughts and feelings.
You don’t have to fill gaps in conversation. Sometimes silences are a moment of reflection and allow you and your loved one the opportunity to understand how the other is feeling in that moment.
Whilst supporting someone with breast cancer consists of providing emotional and mental assistance, there are many other symptoms of breast cancer that may hinder their day to day tasks. Listening and learning how to support your loved one physically is imperative throughout their diagnosis.
Driving your loved one to their breast cancer clinic and accompanying them to their screening appointments relieves them of the responsibilities of driving. Providing transport will reduce the risk of danger on the road and allow them to better prepare and relax for their appointments.
You may notice your loved one cooking less, or that their home may not be as well kept as usual. It is not unusual for a breast cancer patient to become weak and struggle to do things around the house. Be mindful of the fact that their usual responsibilities are more troublesome than ever.
Don’t be afraid to offer assistance around the house. Practical support can take a lot of stress from someone’s plate and gives them the space to focus on their health.
Looking after your loved one can be stressful for you. Taking care of yourself can go a long way in providing breast cancer care too.
Be mindful that there are events you cannot control. A diagnosis brings about many changes that you cannot take responsibility for, and trying to do so will only add pressure to an already stressful situation.
If you have the network around you, don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. Friends and family will be more than happy to help when they may feel useless otherwise. Even just a home-cooked meal can be all the assistance you need to take the edge off a stressful day. If you don’t have support available from the people around you, there is breast cancer support for families available.
There are many breast cancer support groups available that aim to assist friends and family. It might be helpful to talk about how you’re coping with other people who understand your situation. The stresses of a diagnosis extend far beyond the reach of the diagnosee.
Be sure to rest and sleep. Your mind and body need adequate rest after stressful events to recover. Be especially mindful of your mental health, and don’t be alarmed if you notice dips in your mood, too. Seeking mental health support will leave you better equipped to support your loved one.
We offer a one-stop breast clinic in Canary Wharf and Orpington where your loved one can be treated by some of the UK’s leading breast clinicians.
If you’d like to book an appointment or have any queries, you can get in touch with us or call us directly on 0330 054 4978.