YSE Women

How to Support a Loved One with Breast Cancer

Written by Jordan Johnson

Navigating breast cancer – no matter your age or life stage –  is something no one can prepare you for.  The mix of emotions, like confusion, fear, and overwhelm, can paralyze the diagnosed person to a feeling of numbness, as told by Dulci Edge, breast cancer survivor.

And although, as loved ones of those affected, we can never truly understand how it feels to undergo this experience, we can stand with them and assist them in genuine ways where they feel truly seen and supported.  It can be tricky, though, because often times, we turn to self-coping mechanisms to endure the painful thought of potentially losing that person.  However, despite our thoughts + actions being well-intentioned, they’re not always the most helpful.  Fortunately, Dulci has provided wonderful words of wisdom on how we can best support our loved ones during this difficult journey.

Avoid Toxic Positivity

When your loved one is overcome with a wave of emotions, sit with them through these hard moments, until they pass.  Instead of trying to reinforce positive statements like, “everything will be okay!” or “you’ll be totally fine” Dulci suggests the best route, rather, would be to just let the person know you’re there – in both the good and the bad.  Not trying to change their outlook or force them to feel positive, Dulci explained, is much more meaningful to that person.  It gives them grace and allows them to feel comfortable in releasing their feelings, which further helps them to move on from the emotional pain after the moment passes.

Accompany Doctor Appointments

Dulci also recommends accompanying your loved one to their appointments, as there is so much medical jargon and information told to them, which can become quite numbing to listen to and difficult to process, in the midst of all the overwhelming feelings.  She says it’s really helpful to have someone there to take notes, listen to the doctors, and take in all the information in a more neutral way.

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Offer Rides or Uber Cash

While undergoing treatment, Dulci explained that the multitude of  appointments leads to an increased amount of time in the car.  And because treatment is already so difficult – and/or leaves the person feeling ill after – driving after the appointment can be quite difficult.  And if that person lives in a big city, then incremental stress can occur even before the appointment when it comes to finding parking in those urban areas.  To take the headache out of it altogether for your loved one, Dulci recommends either offering to drive them, or sending Uber cash to help pay for rides.  She said both gestures truly go a long way, as the transportation piece unfortunately  adds even more stress to an already taxing scenario.

Assist with Daily Tasks

While we may often think of cooking for someone during this time, Dulci explains that although it’s an incredibly kind gesture, food aversions and weird cravings do occur while undergoing treatment.  Instead, she suggests trying other gestures that just make their lives feel a bit easier, like offering to walk their dog or pick up their kids from school, when they’re not feeling well post-treatment.  

Now any gesture, of course, is always appreciated and well-intentioned, as we try to navigate how to best help our loved ones during these strenuous times.  However, it was wonderful learning so much insight from Dulci on what would be of most help to someone battling breast cancer, so that we can all try to make their lives even a little bit easier in times where nothing feels easy.