October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, this disease is all too prevalent in our modern world. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The good news is that it’s highly treatable and has a very low mortality rate. Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will have some type of surgery to remove the the tumor. Some will have to undergo additional treatment such as chemo, radiation or hormone therapy.
Whatever the case, the treatment isn’t fun for the patient. If one of your friends is going through these tough times, there are several things you can do to help support her. Our friends at BasilHealth surveyed several breast cancer survivors and found that the following were the best ways to offer help.
OFFER YOUR SERVICES AS A DRIVER
Particularly after surgery, your friend will need someone to get her home. But she’ll appreciate the company on the way there as well. Surgery is a scary undertaking for many people, so having a friendly face nearby is always welcome. If your friend has to undergo additional treatments, offer to drive her to and from the appointments.
SEND OR DELIVER A MEAL
Food can be a challenging one for someone going through cancer treatments. Your friend could be on a special diet, or she may only be able to stomach certain things. Check with her before making or ordering anything, but it’s still a wonderful (and appreciated) gesture. Make healthful and easily-reheatable items to drop off, offer to order delivery from her favorite restaurant, or give a gift certificate to a popular delivery service like Grubhub or Caviar.
OFFER TO TAKE CARE OF KIDS OR PETS
Cancer treatment often leaves the patient feeling exhausted and nauseous, which makes it difficult to care for other living things. If your friend has small children, offer up your services as babysitter. If she has pets, you can offer to take them off her hands for a few days, or let her know you’re available to walk the dog anytime.
DO HER ERRANDS WHEN DOING YOUR OWN
Anytime you’re out running errands, send your friend a text offering to pick up anything she needs. This could be while you’re grocery shopping, headed to the pharmacy or drugstore, or stopping by the bank. Similarly, you can offer to help with chores around the house, such as laundry or gardening.
BE PROACTIVE ABOUT REACHING OUT
For many people, asking for help doesn’t come naturally – particularly for those who are used to being independent. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t want (or need) help. You can help ease the discomfort by proactively offering your help. Also, when you reach out, offer specifics. Your friend may be feeling overwhelmed or be suffering from “chemo brain” – so offer to help in specific ways.
MAKE HER LAUGH
Finally, we couldn’t resist this tip from Sue Murrian (via Health.com), who received a care package from her sister-in-law.
In it were these little press-on tattoos. They came with a note that said, “Put these on your breast and surprise your radiation technicians!”
(Featured image by Faith of Friends Inc.)