You are having lunch with your best friend like you do every other Wednesday at 2:00pm. This time seems different though; she’s fidgeting and she seems nervous. You ask her what’s wrong, and she tells you.
“I have breast cancer.”
How do you respond?
Watching someone you love go through a serious illness is difficult and frustrating. How does one even begin to support someone going through breast cancer? Here at Rosetta Radiology, we have three suggestions to help you help someone else.
The best place to start would be education.
There are countless resources you can turn to including the library, the American Cancer Society and doctors’ offices.
Learning more about the disease will give you a better idea about what your loved one is going through on a daily basis. It can be frightening seeing a loved one feeling weak or in pain. Having some information about their treatment will better prepare you for what to expect.
Gaining information will also help you support your friend during doctor visits. Your friend is probably scared and has enough on their mind as it is. If you already know information before you go, you can help your friend ask questions and understand what the doctor is telling them.
Listen to them when they want to talk.
Many patients who have been diagnosed with cancer can feel very lonely because people just don’t know what to say. It is important to remember that you can’t say anything to make breast cancer go away. What you can do is listen as they talk, vent, cry or laugh. When you must respond and don’t know how, just say “I don’t know what to say, but I appreciate you opening up to me like this.”
Treat them like a friend, not like someone with cancer.
When a person is diagnosed with breast cancer, their diagnosis does not become their identity. The memories you have shared do not go away and neither does their intelligence, humor or wit. Keep telling your inside jokes and calling to just say hello.
At the end of the day, if you are trying to support someone going through breast cancer, just being there can make a world of difference. If they don't know where to turn for professional medical help, you can also help them by sending them our way.