How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 3, Recovery Phase
If someone you know is going through breast cancer 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 Recovery Phase
This final article (in a series of 3) offers some ideas for supporting someone you care about who has been through all of their treatments for breast cancer and is in the recovery phase. Both of you might be wondering “What happens after breast cancer?”.
Having been through this phase myself, I’d like to share that it’s actually not as easy as it sounds. Everyone expects you to be better, to pick up your life exactly where you left off, to just “get on with it”, the bad stuff is over. But that is far from how you may be feeling.
For me, finishing the treatments and moving on was kind of scary. I was leaving the umbrella of my doctors’ protection – and I left early, having decided that some of what was recommended for me wasn’t going to be therapeutic at all. Ten years ago, there was very little information on the Internet about natural treatments for cancer, and I felt like the Lone Ranger. But I was determined to do this my way.
I also felt like I had just been through hell and back, I was definitely a changed person. Mentally, I believe I changed for the better, but physically? Those toxic treatments take their toll. Also, I was just at the precipice of 50 years of age. I felt like I could do anything, but what should that “anything” be?
Those are just some of the things that a person can be feeling when they get through the treatments for breast cancer. So here are some suggestions on how you can help your loved one during the all-important recovery phase.
5 Things You Can Do To Help Someone Who Is Recovering From Breast Cancer
1. Be A Good Listener. Don’t assume that just because the doctor pronounces them “cancer free”, everything is good, wonderful and recovery is at 100%. That’s usually not the case. Make sure to ask how she/he is feeling and then LISTEN and read between the lines. If you are reasonably close to this person, you will know whether they are genuinely feeling okay or whether there is some nagging problem. You don’t have to “fix” the nagging problem, but I would encourage you to listen to what they say. Be there with them and let them know that you care.
2. Be Prepared For An Emotional Roller-Coaster. It is not uncommon for your loved one to be dealing with a wide range of emotions ranging from grief to sadness, depression, isolation (especially if they live in a very small community), and anxiety that the cancer may return. They will definitely need your patience, reassurance and understanding during this time. If they really seem to be struggling with the fear factor, depending on how severe that fear is, your loved one might need:
(a) Counseling to help them deal with it; and/or
(b) The services of a breast cancer coach or a naturopath or integrative doctor to help them formulate a healing and wellness regime so that they know they are doing absolutely everything they can to keep themselves well.
3. Go To Those Scary Appointments. Accompanying your loved one on their follow-up doctor appointments will mean a lot. Why? Because those follow-up appointments are scary. Worries of the cancer returning are going to be uppermost in your loved one’s mind so go with them and reassure them with your presence. At first, the follow-up appointments will probably be scheduled about every 3-6 months. The longer your loved one has been free of cancer, the less often the appointments are needed. After 5 years, they are typically done just once a year, if at all.
4. Encourage Those Good Habits. Impress upon your loved one the importance of taking good care of themselves. This is not the time for the good diet and nutrition and supplements to go out the window. The recovery phase is the time to really stay on top of those things, to help make sure that any stray cancer cells that the treatments may have missed is mopped up by a strong immune system. If you need help with this, make sure to subscribe to my free newsletters and e-books, full of my best information on healing from breast cancer and preventing recurrences.
5. Give Them Time. Give your loved one as much time as they need for this recovery phase. Remember that each person’s experience is individual. Remind them (and you!) that they need to give themselves time to find a new way to be in the world. Let them know you are right there with them, supporting them and however long it takes is however long it takes.
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.
The 1st article in this series: How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer, Part 1, The Diagnosis
The 2nd article in this series: How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer, Part 2, Treatment Phase
GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.