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BEING THERE THROUGH BREAST CANCER

Together

Posted by Mother's Day Classic on 29 September 2015

In Australia, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Sadly, this means most of us will be affected by breast cancer in some way – whether directly or indirectly.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about more than raising awareness and funds. It’s about being there for one another and supporting those you love.

Talking about breast cancer is hard. There’s no easy way around that. Even the word cancer can stir up emotions, fears or certain assumptions. But as hard as it may be, when someone close to you is dealing with breast cancer it’s important to try and put aside any awkwardness or discomfort you may have and show them you care just by being there. So what’s the best way to be helpful and supportive in this situation?

LISTENING IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

If someone close to you wants to talk about their breast cancer diagnosis, don’t get caught up thinking about the right thing to say. Just listen to what they have to say. This can be as simple as sitting with them quietly without interrupting their flow of thought as they talk through their concerns and feelings. Often having someone listen openly to you is all it takes to feel loved and cared for.

BE SENSITIVE TO THEIR NEEDS, AND JUST ASK

When someone is going through breast cancer, life can get very serious. While talking about it can be therapeutic, it can also be exhausting. When you are supporting a loved one through breast cancer, you aren’t expected to know when they do and don’t want to talk about it. So rather than playing guessing games or walking on eggshells, just ask. If you start a conversation about it and they tense up or avoid your questions, it’s okay to say, “would you rather talk about something else right now?” They might need a breather from the cancer talk, chemo talk or emotional conversations.

AVOID GIVING ADVICE

Unless someone specifically asks for advice it’s best not to dish it out, as well-meaning as it may be. Breast cancer is a deeply personal journey. Telling someone your opinions or suggestions about how they should deal with it is not usually helpful, unless you are professionally qualified to do so.

BE THE NOTE-TAKER

Everyone responds to a breast cancer diagnosis differently, but most people will experience some degree of grief or shock. It can be overwhelming during doctor’s appointments to process strong emotions and medical jargon at the same time. To alleviate some of your loved one’s stress, offer to accompany them to appointments and take on the responsibility of being the note-taker. This will allow them to absorb whatever they can without feeling anxious they are missing important details.

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