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How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 2, Treatment Phase
If someone you know has just received a breast cancer diagnosis, and you are looking for tips on how best to support them, this series of articles is offered to provide you with some inspiration.
The Treatment Phase
This second article (in a series of 3) will offer some help for supporting the person who is going through treatments for breast cancer.
And kudos to you for being the support person! It’s not always an easy job.
My best friend took on that role so that my husband could keep working and stay focused on his role of sole provider for the both of us while I was going through breast cancer treatments. Some of the things she did for me will be included here because they were just so darned beneficial to me.
19 Things You Can Do To Genuinely Help During the Treatment Phase
- If your friend needs surgery, find out what kind of food they will be offered in the hospital – quite often hospital food is so processed, there’s no way it is going to help someone heal quickly. Bring your friend some freshly prepared organic vegetable soup with beans or organic chicken in it (beans and chicken have lots of protein and protein is needed so that the surgical site can repair quickly). Include some shiitake mushrooms, they help to boost immunity.
- Offer to cook nutritious meals for them. Find out what they are eating, because if they are going through chemotherapy, there might be a lot of things off the menu for them due to mouth sores, indigestion issues, etc. Choose organic whole foods that have little to no sugar in them. Sugar feeds cancer cells, so something high in carbohydrates (like your favorite tuna casserole) is not a good idea. Deliver the food in disposable containers that are not expected to be returned.
- If they are juicing, offer to come over and wash and prepare the vegetables and other produce for fitting down the juicer slot. Do enough for a week, this can be a very tiring part of the cancer patient’s day but oh-so-necessary for recovery.
- If they are going through chemotherapy, offer to go to their treatment sessions with them. While there, do your best to keep them in a cheery state of mind. Take along a joke book or something to make them laugh. I always took freshly prepared juices with me – they would put the chemotherapy in and I’d be drinking healthy juices to help protect me from the toxicity. One proviso – if you are sick yourself or suspect you may have been exposed to something, please excuse yourself, because your germs will not help someone who is immuno-compromised.
- Take them shopping for needed items. They may be too tired to do it themselves but having a friend nearby for energy and reassurance can make a big difference.
- Every week, send them a beautiful card with an inspirational message in it. Communication means everything to someone going through these treatments and this kind of thing – easy enough to do – can make the difference in someone’s otherwise depressing day.
- If you are out of town, send them a gift card to a local, favorite restaurant. Not having to cook after a chemotherapy or radiation session can mean the world to them. You could also send them a movie gift card or a gift certificate to a local spa so they can get a massage.
- Make a chemo gift basket filled with things to help them pass the time during treatments – crossword puzzles, books, magazines, iTunes gift cards. If you know they will have a family member with them, maybe include a book or magazine that would appeal to that person as well.
- If the weather is cold, giving a hat, a beautiful scarf, cozy socks or a handmade cozy blanket would be very much appreciated.
- If the weather is hot, hydration is important, so give them a beautiful water bottle that doesn’t sweat. Also a personal misting fan works great for the associated hot flashes that occur because of the treatments. I love these.
- Give the gift of your time. Just go sit and be with her. Bring flowers. Hold her hand and listen to her tale of woes. Or help her to find some humor in the situation. Just be there, understand and care. Give her a hug. Be aware she might have “chemobrain”. People on chemo tend to be a little forgetful. Realize you may have to repeat things to her, and understand it’s part of the process. Just be there for her, and let her know that you care.
- If your loved one doesn’t have a regular housekeeper, perhaps hire a maid service, one time or regularly. Or while visiting, you could offer to do some clean-up yourself (be prepared for resistance – they may not want to accept the help!). Be persistent, but be prepared to accept it if they aren’t comfortable with it.
- Offer to do some gardening – mowing the lawn, pulling out weeds, chopping wood, trimming back overgrown bushes – all of these can be overwhelming for a person going through cancer treatments. Make sure you get permission first though – there’s nothing worse than chopping back something that looks like a weed but turns out to be their favorite plant in the garden.
- If your loved one has children, offer to take them somewhere special or to the movies, or bring them something special when you visit. This helps your loved one have time to rest and it gives the children a break from the “sick house” when they can just be kids.
- Order a comedy CD or DVD on Amazon and have it sent to your loved one.
- Do some research on treatment options – your loved one might not have the brain power or patience to do this. Enlist the help of a naturopath, if need be, or a cancer coach.
- Help your loved one find a good support group. Research indicates that women who join support groups while going through breast cancer have a much longer life expectancy than someone who does not, so support groups offer some very real, quantifiable results (I think it’s all those hugs given and received!). To find out where the closest ones are, organizations like the American Cancer Society, CancerCare and Cancer Support Community offer support groups in person, online and through hotlines. Their oncologist may also be aware of support groups in the area, so ask.
- If your loved one is going through radiation treatments, make sure they know about the healing effects of aloe vera, calendula and lavender to combat the burning of the skin caused by the radiation.
- Give them an hour with a breast cancer coach, someone who has been through this journey and has loads of tips and information, the latest research, and knows which natural therapies work and which ones aren’t so great, someone who can help them kick-start the healing process.
I hope this article helps someone out there. If you would like to add your idea to the list, please feel free in the comments section. You might also find some assistance within the pages of this website.
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