Having a good support network can be critical to the breast cancer process, especially for young women. But being a caregiver for someone with cancer is no easy task. Find out what you need to know to help the person you love, and yourself.
WHAT TO SAY, WHAT NOT TO SAY
It’s tough to know exactly what to say to a friend or loved one who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Just being there and showing your support is what really matters. Here are some tips when it comes to talking to someone with cancer:
- Don’t be overly positive + peppy. Do tell her it’s okay to feel sad or scared.
- Don’t simplify the experience. Do ask questions so you can learn the facts.
- Don’t give unsolicited advice. Do respect the decisions she has made about her treatment.
- Don’t make comparisons to someone else’s or your own situation. Do let her know she is not alone.
- Don’t be a fortuneteller and tell her you know it will all be okay. Do tell her you’ll be there for her, even if things get rough.
DON’T ASK WHAT TO DO, DO THIS!
If you know someone with breast cancer, you probably want to do something to help. Rather than just ask “Can I do anything?” it is sometimes more helpful to offer to do something specific. Here are some ideas on what you can do:
- Insist that you are happy to help out in any way you can. Don’t let her feel like a burden.
- Offer to take the kids. If she’s a mom, taking the kids out for a few hours so she can rest will be a great help.
- Organize. Help her create a list of tasks that need to be done and assign them to various people. You can also help her keep track of her schedule, which likely involves many medical appointments.
- Create normalcy. Help take her mind off what she’s going through by recreating moments from her life before cancer. It can be as simple as sitting together and laughing along with a silly reality TV show.
- Help with the chores. Offer to clean the house, do the laundry, pick up the groceries – anything that will lighten the load.
- Fundraise. Cancer can be expensive, especially if she isn’t able to work throughout treatment. Offer to help raise funds to help with the expenses.
- Give a break. If she’s feeling up to it, perhaps she’d enjoy a voucher to a spa, or a night at a hotel with her partner. A thoughtful,experiential gift is a great way to show you care.
CREATE A TREATMENT CARE KIT
If your friend or loved one is about to go through breast cancer treatment, you might want to put together a care kit to help her through. Here are some items you can put in the kit:
- Mints can help mask taste problems. Lemon candies can be helpful as well, or ginger candies to help with nausea.
- Lip balm. The lips can often feel dry after surgery and during chemo. Pick something simple and natural, with good moisture, like Burt’s Bee’s Beeswax lip balm.
- Hand lotion is another helpful item to help with dryness. Stick with something with an unscented or very mild scent, in case of any sensitivity while going though treatment.
- Music. Create a playlist for your friend. You can make one upbeat to help lift her spirit, and one more mellow for when she’s resting. You can also include iTunes gift cards and let her purchase her own music.
- Blanket. Who doesn’t love a soft and cozy blanket!
- Tea. Find some comforting herbal teas to bring some extra warmth.
- Magazines are great for giving her something to flip through while she’s receiving chemotherapy. Nothing like a lil’ celeb gossip to help make the time pass faster.
- Snacks. Include some of her favourite treats to munch on. Yum!
CREATE A MEAL TRAIN
Putting together a meal train is an awesome way to mobilize all the people you know who want to help out but don’t know what to do.
Think of healthy foods with good nutrition for the woman experiencing cancer, but don’t forget the people around her. Sometimes the biggest help could be a dish of macaroni so she doesn’t have to worry about what to feed the kids (and she might be craving some gooey mac ‘n cheese herself). Here are some ideas for what you can include in your meal train:
- Comfort food. Think starches and meals that are comforting and easy on the tummy.
- Freezables. It’s a great idea to bake something that can be frozen and eaten at any time, like lasagna or banana bread.
- Fruits and veggies. Nutritious and delicious! Cut them up so they’re easy to snack on.
- Soup. Soup is a great idea because it can easily be reheated and served. Try to avoid any recipes that are overly spicy.
- Some other suggestions are nuts, granola bars, salads & easy-to-assemble side dishes, bagels & cream cheese, and fresh pressed green or vegetable juice.
- Make sure to check with your friend/loved one to see if she has any dietary restrictions, and ask if she’s craving anything in particular. Ask for the best time to drop off the food, or if there’s somewhere safe to leave it by the door.
- Time to put on that apron get cooking!