5 Ways to Encourage a Friend with Breast Cancer

Posted on 01 February 2017


1. Make Time for Her Regularly

    Knowing their friends and family are on hand to provide support is really important to women with breast cancer. Be sure to listen well and realize when your friend just needs to grieve. Encourage and validate any of the feeling she may express to you.  She may feel isolated, so if she is up for it, arrange a movie or craft night with close girlfriends. Be sure to be flexible in your plans and allow your friend to express how she is feeling no matter what.

    From diagnosis to surgery, your role is to act as a neutral listener. Let her bounce thoughts off of you without judgment or advice. You can help her weigh the pros and cons, but let her draw conclusions and make it clear you’re with her and for her. Try to listen for the fears and other emotions underlying her decision, and offer as much emotional reassurance as you can.

    2. Don't Let Her Go to Appointments Alone

    No matter how self-reliant or brave she tries to be, no matter how many times she says, “no it’s ok", it’s always nice to have company. Going to a cancer appointment alone is can feel overwhelming or isolating. Your friend is understandably freaked out by the diagnosis, imagine instead of sitting in a waiting room alone, you’ve got a great friend to chat with. The wait will seem so much less disheartening with someone who loves them there to offer reassurance and support.

    3. Let her feel

    Society often pushes bravery and keeping strong spirit even when things are difficult, it’s very hard to do that after a breast cancer diagnosis. Your friend may go through ups and downs. Her feelings that range from feeling okay about things to being overwhelmed with fear or sadness. when she’s diagnosed, during her treatments or in the years after diagnosis, tell her you’re there for her. She might feel as though she has to stuff her true feelings, especially as time goes by. Tell her it’s okay for her to be upset and cry around you, rather than changing the subject.

    4. Focus on the Positives

    Helping your friend stay focused on the bright side of things is crucial during this tumultuous time.  Be the positive reminder that she is not just the sum of her cancer. Don’t let her limit herself, talk through her thoughts and plans for short-term goals: family trips together, events with friends, and ways she can find pleasure.

    5. Say anything

    Some of the most fortifying messages a friend can receive is something genuine and heartfelt.  Cards, notes, text messages of encouragement regularly goes a long way. It’s the perfect reminder that they aren’t in this alone. Whatever you do, don't let worry about getting it just right, there’s no perfect method, the heart behind it is what really makes the impact.

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