Here are some important points to keep in mind:
Different People, Different Reactions
Understand that people react differently to this type of serious news; while some may have an optimistic attitude right from the get-go, others may go through a period of denial, or even mild depression. Pay attention to how your loved one is dealing with the situation, and avoid having any reactions that are too extreme-whether they are positive or negative. In other words, don’t act as if a tragedy has occurred, but don’t brush off the seriousness of the illness either. Also, be ready to give the person her space for a little while if she needs it.
It’s important to show your friend or family member that you are available if she needs you, but without overwhelming her with your presence. You should be able to sense whether she wants you by her side 24/7, or if she needs some time alone to process the news and everything it entails. If you’re not sure, it may be a good idea to ask whether she wants to talk; she’ll tell you if she’s not ready, or doesn’t want to.
Read up on it If a friend, mother, sister, aunt, etc. is embarking on a battle against breast cancer, chances are she is going to be learning a lot about the disease. Her doctor will be keeping her up to date on what’s going on in her body, what her treatment options are, what kind of progress she’s making, etc. Talking about what is going on in one’s life can be very therapeutic. Not all cancer patients like to discuss their illness, but in the case that your friend or family member does, you’ll want to know at least the basics, so you can follow what she’s saying, and listen actively (respond, ask questions, debate, etc.). The Internet can be a great source of information, as well as your local library. A great place to start is divine.ca’s Breast Cancer Corner!
Your friend or family member is probably very scared, whether she shows it openly or not. It’s essential for you to stay positive, and for it to show in your attitude. Trying to be there for someone who has a serious illness can be tough physically and mentally, but it’s crucial to stay strong-at least when you’re in the presence of the person battling such a grave disease. Also, don’t overlook her moments of discouragement and despair; acknowledge them, and make sure you’re there for her.
Don’t let supporting your friend put your own mental or physical health at risk. If you need some time to yourself, take it. There are probably people who are concerned about you, too, so don’t hesitate to vent if you become overwhelmed by the whole situation. You won’t be much help to your loved one fighting cancer if you’re not in good health yourself!