How are you supposed to deal with a family member who has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer?
According to AIHW Cancer Data in Australia web report, in 2020, it is estimated that the age-standardised incidence of breast cancer rate will increase to 69 cases per 100,000 persons (1.1 for males and 133 for females). The incidence rate for breast cancer is expected to increase with age for both males and females, peaking at age group 70-74 for females.
If you are wondering how you can help a diagnosed family member, you have come to the right place.
Your loved one will surely be overwhelmed with emotions soon after being diagnosed with breast cancer. He or she may want you to allow him/her to cry and say “I’m scared.” Try your best to sympathise with your loved one and let him/her know he/she is not alone.
Although you may not have all the right answers, you can help ease the emotional burden by simply listening.
#2. Don’t Ask, Just Do
Don’t wait until your loved one asks for your help. Instead, be specific and offer to do something for him/her. Whether you plan to prepare a meal or do some housework for your family member, they will be thankful.
#3. Be A Quiet Observer
When your family member has undergone surgery recently, being a quiet observer is extremely important. Your family member may not be in a position to entertain guests when he/she has recently undergone surgery. Even though visitors will be appreciated, there are times when you can send some flowers, a card, or simply text and let the loved one know that you are thinking of him/her.
#4. Be A Wingman
When your loved one is diagnosed with a serious condition, his/her schedule will be booked with medical appointments. You can provide solace by being willing to accompany him/her to the healthcare provider’s appointments or chemotherapy sessions. This will put him/her at ease throughout the emotionally and physically draining period.
#5. Don’t Compare
Breast cancers are unique cases. So you should avoid offering advice to your loved one on how someone else dealt with his/her condition. Stop offering comparative advice to your loved one. Being non-judgemental is extremely important when caring for someone who has been recently diagnosed with a debilitating disease.
When you are dealing with a person who has just been diagnosed with any serious health condition, there are three types of support to offer such as:
Home appliance advisor, Karina Wolfin from Direct Appliance Rentals says, “Many patients prefer to do day-to-day chores of their own (like doing the laundry) even during treatment. But certain side effects could make it difficult for your loved one to perform everyday tasks. They may not ask for help because asking for help isn’t always easy. Knowing how you can help is important under such circumstances. Just think about what your loved one might need help like renting the right laundry appliance (if you’re out for work). You should decide what you can do for your loved one and how much time you can commit.”
Both parties should understand what’s on offer. For example, you could ideally say “Would you like me to pick up your kids from school?” instead of saying “What can I do for you?” Here are some daily tasks you could do for your loved one:
. Vacuuming and cleaning
. Washing and ironing clothes
. Transportation for hospital appointments
. Meal preparation
. Transporting kids to and from school
Some patients are reluctant to ask for help or even embarrassed about the help being offered by you. They may maintain a sense of normality and continue with their normal routine even when it’s difficult to do certain things.
Negative emotions can run wild during such times. Fear, sadness, anger, and frustration are some of the common emotions felt by patients with cancer. These feelings may change from day to day or even hour to hour. This can make it difficult to know what you should say to them. Just letting them express these feelings is the best way to deal with the situation. Try not to reason out or force them to believe your own opinion on breast cancer or how to deal with it.
Don’t be afraid of tears they may shed. It will be helpful for them to relieve their emotional pain. Hold hands and give them a hug when needed. If the patient is angry about the diagnosis, they may try to direct the anger at you. You should not get hurt as this is because they are upset about the diagnosis rather than being upset with you. Listen to the loved one talk about their pain and let him/her express the pain freely.
Support For You
Supporting a loved one with breast cancer can be quite demanding and upsetting. You should look after yourself first to be able to take care of the loved one diagnosed with breast cancer.
Eat well, get regular exercises, and have sufficient rest. Do not forget to have some time to yourself so that you have the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength to share with your loved ones.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, make sure to let a friend, family member, or your healthcare provider know about how you feel.