It can be hard to know how to help someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, despite wanting to support them in every way. We spoke to Bex, who recently started treatment, about what she finds helpful.
I’m having chemotherapy at the moment, so ‘What can I do to help?’ is a question I am getting a lot. The outpour of support from so many different directions is incredible - I think the postman is quite bewildered!
The trouble is, I don’t always know how people can help. Having friends and family around who are flexible but don’t necessarily expect a lot back is key! I decided to make a list, to help me give those supporting me some guidance.
How you can help
1. Meals, meals, meals
This is something I greatly appreciate. It saves time and energy, and can be a nice treat. My breast care nurse says that I need extra protein and vitamins at the moment, so healthy options and not too much cake are preferable! Hearty soups and stews are great, particularly in winter.
2. Car lifts
I won’t be able to drive for a few weeks after surgery, and may struggle going to/from chemotherapy sessions in the longer term, so giving lifts is very useful.
3. Kind messages
Although sometimes I need some space, I love being able to connect with people, and small messages like 'Just thinking of you' that I don't necessarily need to reply to really brighten my day.
4. Donating to causes I support
Things can be tougher financially during treatment, so some friends have donated to causes that I normally support. See if there are any charities your friend or family member would like you to give to.
5. Wish lists
I made a list of different things I thought might help me, with ideas from people in the Forum who have already started their treatment:
- Ginger chews, to aid nausea during chemotherapy
- Gentle, natural body wash and bath products for sensitive skin after radiotherapy
- Cotton exercise headband to put under my cold cap and wear when my hair starts to thin
- A cleaner, tidying the house takes a lot of energy
- Natural hair treatment, like this one with peppermint and honey
- Soothing eye drops, for when I lose my lashes
- A cooling pillow for hot flushes, like this gel version
- Mini fan, also to help hot flushes
- Resistance exercise bands, for doing gentle exercises during and after treatment.
Read more from Bex in her blog.
If you know someone who's recently been diagnosed but aren't sure how to help, we can put you in touch with someone who has had had the same experience.