October is breast cancer awareness month and as we celebrate survivors, we’ve rounded up a few ways to support breast cancer patients.
Learn to Listen
Listening is key to support. Meet a breast cancer patient where they’re at in that moment and let their needs and thoughts be the center of the conversation. Avoid centering a conversation around how you relate, your experiences or your advice– that’s all about you but true listening is an open act of love. Here’s a great article with tips on how to be a good listener.
Note Taker and Advocate
Going to appointments with a patient and taking notes is one action-oriented way to help. And you can do this for any appointment, not just doctor appointments.
Follow Their Page or Blog
Breast cancer patients might find strength in discussing their journey on sites like Mylifeline.org, Caringbridge.org, Lotsahelpinghands.com, or social media platforms. Follow them to learn about their journey. However, avoid commenting with overly general phrases like: “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” That puts the burden on the person to think of something and coordinate you to do it. Instead, offer specific ways to help like picking up kids from school, spending time doing an activity with them they enjoy (this can be as simple as watching a movie on the couch) or helping out around their house.
Offer Contact Info
Talking to someone who has gone through breast-cancer treatment first-hand can be beneficial. Telling a breast-cancer patient’s stories about people you know who survived cancer makes the conversation about you and might not be encouraging. Instead, offer contact information of other survivors.
Invite Them to Something Fun
You might feel awkward around breast cancer patients, but that’s just putting a heavier burden on them. Instead of pity or avoidance, invite them to fun things like lunch or game night.
Make Life Normal for the Kids
Breast cancer patients with kids want to continue to make sure their lives go on interrupted. But that can be difficult after surgeries or treatments. Offer to spend your time and energy playing with the kids, taking them to fun events, helping out with birthday parties and just otherwise devoting some time and energy into the kid’s lives.
Everyone loves a little extra attention! Send cards, chocolates, soft blankets, cute scarves– anything that will make your friend feel thought of and loved.