It can be hard to know how to help someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, despite wanting to support them in every way. Bex gives us her tips that helped her when she started treatment.
When I started chemotherapy, I was asked ‘What can I do to help?’ a lot. The outpour of support from so many different directions was incredible - I think the postman was quite bewildered!
The trouble was, I didn’t always know how people could help. Having friends and family around who are flexible but don’t necessarily expect a lot back is key! I decided to make a list, to help me give those supporting me some guidance.
How you can help
1. Meals, meals, meals
This is something I greatly appreciated. It saves time and energy, and can be a nice treat. My breast care nurse said that I needed extra protein and vitamins at the moment, so healthy options and not too much cake are preferable! Hearty soups and stews are great, particularly in winter.
2. Car lifts
I wasn't able to drive for a few weeks after surgery, and struggled going to/from chemotherapy sessions in the longer term, so giving lifts is very useful.
3. Kind messages
Although sometimes I needed some space, I loved being able to connect with people, and small messages like 'Just thinking of you' that I didn't necessarily need to reply to really brightened my day.
4. Donating to causes I support
Things can be tougher financially during treatment, so some friends donated to causes that I normally supported. See if there are any charities your friend or family member would like you to give to.
5. Wish lists
I made a list of different things I thought might help me, with ideas from people in the Forum who have already started their treatment:
- Ginger chews, to aid nausea during chemotherapy
- Gentle, natural body wash and bath products for sensitive skin after radiotherapy
- Cotton exercise headband to put under my cold cap and wear when my hair starts to thin
- A cleaner, tidying the house takes a lot of energy
- Natural hair treatment, like this one with peppermint and honey
- Soothing eye drops, for when I lose my lashes
- A cooling pillow for hot flushes, like this gel version
- Mini fan, also to help hot flushes
- Resistance exercise bands, for doing gentle exercises during and after treatment.
Read more from Bex in her blog.
If you know someone who's recently been diagnosed but aren't sure how to help, we can put you in touch with someone who has had had the same experience.