Breast Cancer Affects Millions of Women
Breast cancer is something that brings women together. Why? Because we all know someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer. More than 3.8 million women live in America who have it or have survived breast cancer. It is nearly impossible NOT to know someone who has had or is undergoing treatment for this disease.
Approximately one out of every eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer. In 2021, there will be more than 280,000 new diagnoses of invasive breast cancer in women in the United States. There will also be nearly 50,000 women in the US diagnosed with cases of non-invasive breast cancer. About 43,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2021.
How Can You Help a Friend With Breast Cancer?
If you are a caregiver or friend to someone with breast cancer, a survivor yourself, or have lost a loved one to breast cancer, you are part of a growing population in this country- a population of women whose lives have been changed by breast cancer. As such, you have likely been called upon to help someone face their diagnosis, endure treatment, and adjust to life as a cancer survivor. How did you know what to do?
Helping someone with breast cancer is easier for some than others. To some people, it comes naturally. Others might be hesitant to “intrude” or offer their strong opinions on personal matters. Part of being a good friend, after all, is respecting boundaries and recognizing that not all women have the same needs. Some people might not want to “re-live” their own battle.
17 Ways To Help When Someone You Love Has Breast Cancer
Luckily, there is plenty of guidance. Health.com spoke to breast cancer survivors and caregivers and compiled a list of ways to help a friend with breast cancer. The list can be helpful if you are unsure what to do for your friend with breast cancer. It also provides some insight into the needs of many breast cancer patients.
Here are some of the suggested ways to help:
- Learn to listen without always giving advice or your opinion
- Be a note-taker and advocate at medical appointments.
- Help someone set up a blog page on Care Pages or Caring Bridge so they can communicate with family and friends and build a community.
- Provide names and phone numbers of survivors or patients in case your friend wants to reach out
- Keep things light when you can- funny gifts, notes, or anything to elicit a laugh can go a long way toward lightening the physical and emotional toll of breast cancer.
- Provide distractions in the form of surprises such as gifts for chemo or having something special waiting when returning from treatment. Surprise activities or plans can also be a welcome distraction.
- Convince someone that accepting help is a good thing for everyone -the giver and receiver.
- Leave messages, send texts, and let your friend know it is okay not to respond until they feel like it. She will appreciate all of the good wishes and thoughts.
- Ask before delivering or sending meals and allow your friend to set the terms. (what type of food is ok, how much, whether you should leave it at the door or come in). Although your intentions are good, meals are not always welcome.
- Offer to buy groceries and get a detailed list of what your friend likes, including brands.
- Help her kids feel normal by driving them to sports, dance, social activities, shopping, and anything else that can reduce the disruption in their lives.
- Maintain an open-ended offer to help or visit so when your friend is in the mood or feels well enough, she will tell you. For example, say, “Let me know if you are up to it this weekend, and I will stop by with lunch for us. If not, we will do it another time.”
- Shower her with attention by delivering special treats like cute hats, scarves, and decadent snacks
- Don’t tell her how she should feel.
- Cut her some slack. Helping someone with breast cancer means you really must think about her needs. Some ways to do this include sending things like food and flowers in containers you don’t want back, never expecting a thank you note, and not expecting her to come to the door in person or invite you in.
- Don’t forget her when her treatment ends.
- Join her if she wants to participate in fundraising events for breast cancer, or encourage her to join YOU!
Send Something From Rock the Treatment To Help Your Friend With Breast Cancer
Another way to help your friend with breast cancer is to send a healthy cancer gift box from Rock the Treatment. We have cancer care packages that contain items that check many of the boxes above. Chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets are packed with the essentials needed to ease side effects of treatment, as well as enhance physical and mental well-being. See all of our cancer care packages and find the one that best supports their journey.