Cancer of any sort can be a devastating condition, not just for the person fighting it, but their family and loved ones too. It can turn your world upside down and suddenly the cancer and the treatment thereof become your main focus. Breast cancer is most prevalent in women, though men do get it too. As we enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, let’s be more than just aware of it, let’s be proactive and do what we can to support those around us. If you have breast cancer, it runs in your family, or you know someone that has it, read on for encouragement and advice.

Early detection

The month of awareness for Breast Cancer isn’t just a nice educational endeavour. One of the big campaigns is having people get mammograms. A mammogram can often detect a tumour up to two years before a lump can be felt. It is suggested that women over forty should get a mammogram if they have never had one and that women between the ages of 45 and 50 should get routine screenings as well as discuss their possible risk factors with their healthcare provider to determine how routinely. If breast cancer is detected early and it is still in the localised stage, the 5-year survival rate is 99%. If you are younger than forty, you are still encouraged to perform a self-exam on your breasts at least once a month.

 The cancer isn’t you

You are not the disease, and the cancer isn’t you. Yes, a person diagnosed with cancer has to cope with a disease that could seriously alter their way of life and threaten it, but they are still the same person they were before they got the diagnosis. They still have the same interests and preferences.

If you are living with cancer, don’t give up and don’t give in. Keep doing what you love. If treatment leaves you a bit weak and you get tired quickly, break up your tasks and hobbies into manageable chunks so you can do a little bit at a time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; we all need it from time to time.

If you are supporting someone with cancer, don’t just focus on their health. Yes, you should ask how they are feeling today, but that shouldn’t be all you do. Keep asking about their interests and what they have done recently. If your friend or family member gets weak and tires quickly due to treatments, ask how you can help them. Maybe they love gardening, but they can’t do it right now. Ask if you can water their garden while they sit and chat with you or if you can plant fresh flowers for them over the weekend.

Provide support

Support is never just one action or one thing you do. If you’ve had cancer or you have it now, being part of a cancer support group can not only help you, but it can help everyone that is a member. Hearing stories of what to expect and what you can do is much more authoritative from someone that has been through the same experience.

Supporting someone with cancer as a friend or family member also takes many forms:

  • You can remember to check in with them often, without being overbearing. It might take a bit of time to find the right balance, but communication is key.
  • Don’t provide unsolicited advice or opinions. If you have advice, ask if it would be welcomed at that time.
  • Make arrangements to pop in for a visit rather than just showing up at their door and if your friend is housebound, try to arrange for times other than weekends and holidays. A Wednesday can be just as lonely as a Sunday.
  • Do the mundane things that you both like – watch a movie, do a crossword puzzle, read a book, share music.
  • Go for a walk around the house if they are up for it.

Whatever adversity or troubles we face; we are stronger together and we are always just a phone call away if you want an ear to listen or need support. Call us on 079 895 4414… any time, anywhere.