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[photo]-How to <i>Really</i> Help Someone Who Has Breast Cancer

How to Really Help Someone Who Has Breast Cancer


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7 comforting ideas
When one of our friends discovers she has breast cancer, we feel as if it is a call to action. Helping a friend, a colleague a sister… is an action that comes from within. However, the illness can be intimidating and often, it’s hard to know exactly which gestures are useful, beyond simply offering to be there if needed. Here are seven concrete ideas that are sure to help you help her.
Being actively present
Don’t underestimate the source of comfort your simple presence can provide to a friend or family member with cancer. Go with her to a chemo treatment, give her a call or pop by for an afternoon movie marathon; the key is being there. So instead of saying the usual “I’m there for you if you need me”, which usually ends up an unsolicited offer, do something concrete.
A home-cooked meal
A great initiative on your part is to cook up a warm meal, divide it into portions and deliver them, ready-to-eat! It’s a sweet gesture, especially on days where cooking isn’t possible.
Chauffeur services
Cancer treatments can be taxing on a person’s energy levels, so why not offer yourself up as your friend’s personal taxi service? Take her to the hospital, grocery store, the mall… or anywhere else she may need to go.
Helpful books
We’re talking about tomes that discuss the various realities of breast cancer. There are also informative books, such as cancer-fighting recipe books. Note: this tip should be followed only after a breast cancer diagnosis. Towards the end of treatment, the topic has become so omnipresent that she may be looking to get her mind off of it.  
At-home entertainment
Since the illness brings along with it a whole lot of stress, downtime is also important. Offer your friend all sorts of entertainment you can think of: books, movies and CDs, or anything else you think she might like.
A little bit of beauty
This is an idea that puts femininity first. Since treatments (such as chemotherapy) can affect one’s physical appearance, don’t estimate the power of a new piece of jewelry or article of clothing. It’ll definitely be a mood-booster!
Some warmth and comfort
Want to offer your friend some R&R? For those days she’s stuck at home, offer her a comfortable robe, a cute set of pyjamas, warm slippers, and other accessories that promote a feeling of well-being. The softer the materials, the better!

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We wanna know! Post your comment below. 11 comment(s)

  • HH64
    October 5, 2010 at 7:33 am
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    As a three year survivor, I can say these suggestions are right on the money. It's not about trying to say the right thing - it's about being there and offering some normalcy that is really appreciated.
  • anndah
    October 5, 2010 at 10:16 am
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    Breast cancer seems to have effected almost everyone I know.Myself I lost my mother to breast cancer 12 yrs ago on October15.She was only 51yrs old.Also my friends cousin who is a male is currently battling breast cancer.So no one is immune.When my mother was battling with breast cancer people did not know what to do or say so they were not there which was so difficult for her.I'm glad that there is more talk,groups and over all more help for people effected by this. I know there has been progress in all areas. I know that someday there will be a cure.Thank you to divine for caring.
  • chinatiger
    October 5, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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    While many of these are great suggestions, possibly the most important one was omitted ... laughter! As a cancer thriver, myself, (5 1/2 years) I found that receiving funny cards, DVD's, notes and emails even small gifts that made me laugh out loud was the best gift of all, along with my making every effort to live my life as close as possible to the way it was before the cancer treatments. The worst gifts of all for me ..... pity and sympathy and helpful books.
  • Jenn McNeil
    October 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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    Learn more about breast cancer at ?Body, Mind, Spirit 2010: National Conference for Young Women Living with Breast Cancer?, October 29 to 31, 2010, Toronto, Hilton Hotel. Conference schedule and online registration forms at (online registration only).

    The Canadian Breast Cancer Network and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation invite 400 women to learn about the latest medical research, participate in workshops, and share experiences with guest speakers like Bif Naked who will speak about her two-year battle with breast cancer in "Rock Your Cancer"!

    Topics include: a three-part series on BRCA (management options, fertility and psychosocial issues); ?Taking Charge of Your Treatment for Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer?; ?Breast Reconstruction: Knowing Your Options?; ?Intimacy and Sexuality? (for couples and single ladies); ?Babies After Breast Cancer?, and ?Financial Health For Women on Long-Term Disability?, and more.

    More information: Jenn McNeil, Canadian Breast Cancer Network: 1-800-685-8820 ext. 224, or
  • Nikki
    October 11, 2011 at 1:17 am
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    I have to say that the suggestions are all good - except for the books. As someone still undergoing chemo for my breast cancer, I can say that I spend enough time reading and learning about my cancer, including booklets from the Cancer Society, and don't need a book about it. I found all of the e-mail from my friends and family comforting, except for that from a "friend" who felt she should "educate" me about cancer, the psychology of cancer and suggested documentaries and books I needed to read, in addition to telling me how much exercise I should be getting per week. Since she has never gone through this, let alone chemo, I resented her suggestions and it's one of the rare times I've been angry about something other than my cancer in months. If you don't truly understand the fatigue or how scary the whole experience is, just say you care and you're there - don't preach or teach.

    Remember - we aren't breast cancer "victims" -we're patients, just like all other cancer patients.
  • Inez
    October 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm
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    I have to agree with the laughter comments. Three and half months ago when I was diagnosed and went through a lumpectomy, chemo then radiationa and again, a year ago when it metastasized on my spine, humour is what helped me. Laughing with friends and family helped pass the long treatment hours.

    Also, take the lead from the patient. Some days a firend sitting for a cup of tea was the most I could handle, but other days, I could carry on like there was nothing wrong. And remeber, you can not catch breast cancer from your friends. Hugs are so important, as is hand holding and kisses.


  • Inez
    October 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm
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    Sorry - three and a half years - not months

    October 22, 2011 at 8:24 am
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    Best gift ever. 7 little surprises,each with a note ,like treat yourself like a princess with a dollar store tierra or a gourmet chocollate for a divine day. like a hug everyday. this came from a oworker and i sent one to my sister recovering from an accident . This really brings smiles.
  • susan
    October 22, 2011 at 8:37 am
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    21 others heart this
    forgot to say , open one gift a day ,if you can resist the temptation !
  • HealthArt
    October 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm
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    Hi there. Good job doing what you`re doing.

    I have here something interesting about breast cancer:


    Hope it helps!
  • cjmendez
    November 15, 2012 at 10:52 am
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    Excellent suggestions. I am a breast cancer survivor and was lucky to have a great friend who helped me through it. Some times we need reminding the importance of little things to help.

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