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How to Talk to Someone With Breast Cancer

Handling a Loved One's Breast Cancer

When someone in your life tells you that they have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it's difficult to know how to respond or the best way to help. Glamour and Bright Pink, a nonprofit support group for women with breast and ovarian cancer, offered these helpful tips on how to make the conversation easier:

  1. Don't try to guess what she wants — ask how can you help. Some women may want a special girls' night in, while others may need a friend to go with her to doctor's appointments.
  2. Don't burden her with your sadness. She's carrying the weight of her own fear and grief, try not to give her yours as well — she needs all the strength you can offer.

There are more tips, so keep reading.

  1. Never say, "I know how you feel" unless you've been there yourself. Cancer is a standalone issue, don't try to relate a bad experience you've had in another situation. It's OK to say you have no idea what your friend is feeling.
  2. Know what gifts not to give. Food and flowers are big no-nos for cancer patients because of their sensitivity to taste and smells. Instead, give gifts that pamper and might make hospital stays easier, like soft blankets, magazines, or comfy pajamas.
  3. Join the fight. Volunteer for a breast cancer organization, take part in a charity run or walk, or anything else that shows you care about the cause.

I think these are some great tips to get the conversation going. Can any of you add to this list from your own experiences?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
oneannie oneannie 5 years
I just found out wednesday night I had breast cancer.  I just had a lumpectomy yesterday. I've already heard the cliche's " you are so strong, you will be ok".   I just want my pity party for a little bit. I will be strong soon, right now I want and need to cry. My brother said the thing i needed to hear.  "  That sucks sis!.  I'm not going to tell you to be strong or anything cause you know what you need right now, I'm just here to tell you I love you"  thanks bro
hsr0601 hsr0601 7 years
The Women's Intervention Nutrition Study has shown that breast cancer survivors who cut their fat intake and increase their fruit and vegetable intake reduce their recurrence rate by 24 percent.
kscincotta kscincotta 7 years
I can also vouch for the no flowers/no food rule. When my mom and my best friend's mom were simultaneously going through breast cancer treatments, they both were extremely sensitive to food smells and most things just tasted awful to them. Much better to get nice pajamas, books and blankets. Paying for a cleaning service once in a while was also a nice treat that both Mom and Marcia really appreciated.
Wild-Magelet Wild-Magelet 7 years
classysassy, I'm so sorry about your mother. I know that "I know how you feel" is one of the "no no" points above, but my mum was diagnosed in 2005, so I do know how difficult it is. We've recently found out that she has the BRCA2 gene, so she's having a double mastectomy and her ovaries removed in a couple of weeks. Thank you for the post, Fit; it can be really difficult sometimes even if it's a very close family member, trying not to make things worse. One thing I would emphatically agree with, though, is please DO NOT send flowers to someone who's been diagnosed with cancer. And not just because of the smell. One of the things that my mum found hardest, ironically, was the flood of flowers that started arriving when people found out. I think it was about fifteen bunches of them three days. And there is nothing more funereal and more likely to make someone feel like they're dying.
classysassy classysassy 7 years
These are great tips! My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Cancer really does affect everyone.
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