October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so it’s the perfect time to learn about supporting a friend with breast cancer in addition to supporting research and early detection efforts. Since it’s the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, we need to increase awareness and support each other through this illness. Joan Lunden sets a great example, saying of her decision to appear bald on the October 6 cover of People magazine, “I knew I could be a voice for a quarter of a million women who are diagnosed every year with breast cancer, and I wanted to show that your health is more important than your hair. Your hair grows back after you stop chemo, and then you have your life.”
Breast cancer and its treatments can be painful as well as physically and emotionally draining. One of the most supportive things women can do is to be patient and understanding of mood swings and anger at having to undergo this frightening ordeal. We must also remember that a cancer diagnosis is difficult for our friends’ loved ones and family too, so it’s important to be gracious and give everyone the space they need. As frustrated as you may feel about being unable to fix it or make it all better, understand that your company may be the best medicine. Following are 20 tips on the subtle art of supporting a friend with breast cancer.
1. Give Support Supporting a friend with breast cancer includes providing safe space in which she can scream or laugh or cry—whatever may make a positive difference in the moment. Be aware of not imposing your feelings onto her, but rather allow her the room to express her feelings or to be silent and reflective.
Read Related: Breast Cancer: Coping with the Diagnosis