Here’s Exactly How to Support a Loved One with Breast Cancer

You want to be there, but you’re not sure what to or say. Here, patients share what meant the most to them.

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Treatment for breast cancer will never be “easy,” but having the right support system can completely change the experience. So what is the “right” support? What should you say to someone going through this? What can you do that will actually help?

Every patient has different needs, so there’s no one right way to support someone going through chemo.  Here’s what six women HealthiNation interviewed recalled wanting the most during their breast cancer treatment.

Make a specific offer

“I think the most helpful thing for family and friends to do in terms of supporting someone going through breast cancer is to just offer to do something rather than saying ‘What can I do to help you?’”
—Jamie, diagnosed at 45

Remember: The little things count

“Just remember the little things: drop off food, pick up the kids, drop them off.”
—Christine, diagnosed at 42

Do the normal things, without pity

“I would bring cakes. I would bring snacks. Bring a movie and popcorn. Say, ‘How about hanging out?’ And you know what? A lot of times, if you’re with someone that has cancer and is getting chemo, they’ll fall asleep. You eat all the popcorn and let ’em think they enjoyed it, too. Just do the normal things. Just do it with a smile and no pity.”
—Doris, diagnosed at 37, 47, 54

Recognize when they don’t want help

“The thing I needed most from my friends and family is for them to not jump to help me and let me help myself first or ask for help. I just don’t wanna be treated any differently.”
—Alyssa, diagnosed at 23

Absolutely offer to run errands

“You can do a lot of errands for me because I feel like crap, I’m tired—that’s a great one. Offer that.”
—Leslie, diagnosed at 44

Take their mind off treatment

“Let’s not talk about the specifics of my disease and my treatment. Let’s talk about the weather, let’s talk about the movies, let’s talk about your boyfriend, let’s talk about what we’re going to do next week.”
—Lisa, diagnosed at 46

A very special thanks to Susan G. Komen Greater New York City.