October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer among women. Thanks to years of research, advances in breast cancer treatment have come a very long way, and the prognosis for women who are diagnosed and treated early is excellent.
When someone in your family is diagnosed with breast cancer, every aspect of dealing with the disease becomes a family affair. It is important to understand that women react differently when hearing the diagnosis. Each woman has to decide what course of treatment is right for her. The support from close people can take many forms, and sometimes that support is as important to the healing process as the treatment itself.
No woman should ever have to deal with breast cancer alone. It is important that family members, friends and other close personal connections be sympathetic to all of the emotional issues that will likely arise starting at the moment the diagnosis is made and continue for a long time — perhaps even indefinitely.
Don’t allow your lack of understanding of your mother or sister’s feelings stop you from being there for her. Venting is important. Suppressing feelings, anxieties, fears and other emotions can only lead to stress. Breast cancer treatment compromises the immune system, and stress will increase susceptibility to adverse side effects from chemo and/or radiation, and can negatively affect other important bodily functions.
Understand and Don’t Judge
If you’re used to weekly family dinners, lunches, dates with girlfriends or other things, don’t judge her for not feeling up to participating. Breast cancer treatment is exhausting and unpleasant, so the side effects may really take a toll.
Meet With Survivors And Support Groups
Some treatment centers have support groups both for women who are going through everything related to breast cancer and their family members. Don’t be too embarrassed to discuss your feelings openly. These groups are designed to provide a safe and supportive environment to do that.
Sometimes, the support and friendship of another woman who has endured the same thing can be even more helpful. Accepting the fact that someone who has gone through everything your family member is about to go through can offer a type of strength and support that you can’t provide. That doesn’t minimize anything you have to offer.
Encourage your loved one to take advantage of resources and information from any of the breast cancer organizations. Sometimes the prospect of having to tell family members, especially young children, can be overwhelming. Information that is available from websites is there all the time. If you see your loved one struggling to tell children, print off some useful information and place it someplace where other family members won’t see it.
Offer to drive and accompany her to all of her appointments. Not having to drive to treatment or appointments will alleviate a source of stress or anxiety. She may be concerned about her ability to drive safely if treatment is tiring or she is in too much pain. Even if all you do is sit there beside her, the fact that you cared enough to do that is significant.
Make meals for the family so your loved one doesn’t have to cook. The prospect of having to deal with everyday responsibilities can be overwhelming enough for some women to push them into depression. If your loved one isn’t used to asking for help, offer it and be sure that you do so in such a way that she doesn’t feel beholden to you.
Help out by offering to or simply doing some of the housework. Change the sheets on the bed so that when she returns home from surgery, she can crawl into a bed with fresh and clean sheets. Simple things that may seem insignificant can go a long way to lift a burden and alleviate guilt feelings your loved one may have for neglecting household responsibilities. Encourage the rest of the family to pitch in and take over these responsibilities, including things like laundry.
Bring her thoughtful gifts to cheer her up. Special gifts can go a long way toward cheering your loved one up. Fall flower arrangements will brighten any room in the house by bringing a bit of the outside in on a crisp fall day. If you knit or crochet, consider making caps, hats or turbans she can wear while going through chemotherapy. Handmade socks, throws, quilts, hats, head covers and blankets are all special and useful gifts that will mean a lot because you took the time to make them.
Assemble a care package filled with body care products such as lip balm, mints, moisturizing soaps or body washes, lotions or other things you know she’ll like.
Join one of the national Susan G. Komen 3-Day® events, if you can walk 20 miles a day for three days (for a total of 60 miles). Participate in one of the many Komen Race for the Cure® events during October, to show your support.
Breast cancer isn’t a disease that any woman (or man) should have to face alone. Being an advocate may mean different things to different people, but going through the entire ordeal whether as a family, with a spouse or partner, or with close friends, is such a powerful experience that it changes your life forever. Becoming an active crusader against the disease in any capacity will help increase awareness about the importance of early detection.
Source: Lauren Johnson
I am committed to providing the highest quality of care and maintain a deep desire to facilitate personal transformation that allows individuals to live whole-heartedly. My desire is that individuals live a life embodied with peace, joy, love, and prosperity. I hope to accomplish my purpose, which is to help you live your dream of realizing your fullest potential in a personal and meaningful manner that allows you to live the life you want.
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and Rancho Santa Fe 92067 area.