You want to be there, but you’re not sure what to or say. Here, patients share what meant the most to them.
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.
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I think the most helpful thing for
family and friends to do,
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in terms of supporting someone
going through breast cancer,
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is to just offer to do something rather
than saying, what can I do to help you?
00:20.220 --> 00:24.626
00:24.626 --> 00:26.640
Just remember the little things.
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Drop off food, pick up the kids,
drop them off.
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I would bring cakes,
I would bring snacks, bring a movie and
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popcorn, say, how about hanging out?
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And you know what?
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A lot of times,
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if you're with someone that has cancer and
is getting chemo, they'll fall asleep.
00:44.050 --> 00:46.630
You eat all the popcorn and
let them think they enjoyed it too.
00:47.690 --> 00:49.750
Just do the normal things.
00:49.750 --> 00:51.450
Just do it with a smile and no pity.
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The thing I needed most from
my friends and family is for
00:56.140 --> 01:01.200
them to not jump to help me and
let me help myself first or ask for help.
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Yes, absolutely yes.
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You can do a lot of errands for
me cuz I feel like crap, I'm tired.
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And that's a great one, offer that.
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Lets not talk about the specifics
of my disease and my treatment.
01:15.380 --> 01:17.880
Lets talk about the weather,
lets talk about the movies,
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lets talk about your boyfriend, lets talk
about what we're gonna do this weekend.
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I just don't want to be
treated any differently.
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How to be a friend to someone with cancer. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2016. (Accessed on September 29, 2017 at https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/talking-about-cancer/how-to-be-a-friend-to-someone-with-cancer.html.)