Breast cancer involves endless decisions: lumpectomy and radiation or mastectomy? Some women elect to have a
bilateral mastectomy (both breasts removed), so they feel safer. These decisions can be really scary for a woman to talk
to her friends about. It may sound like she's asking for advice, and you may feel under qualified to give it.
Don't worry……..no one expects you to be a medical expert. Your role is to act as a sounding board. Listen to everything she
says without judgment, letting her bounce her thoughts off of you. Help her weigh the pros and cons, but let her make the
decisions. And make it clear you'll be behind her 100%. Try to listen for the fears and other emotions underlying her decision,
and offer as much emotional reassurance as you can.
Here are 6 ways that you can support:
Talk to Her Openly About Her Breasts
Be aware that she needs reassurance in terms of her looks, and if she's single -- her future dating potential. As one woman put it, "Even when you know in your heart that a bilateral mastectomy is the thing to do, there's still the shock and maybe a little anger at what it looks like when you first take the bandages off. Be there to listen or hug her when that time comes."
Don’t let breast cancer take away what’s great about your relationship. Being sensitive doesn’t mean you need to tip-toe
around her or start treating her as though she’s breakable. Normalcy is a huge relief during times like this. If you always
liked to watch sappy movies and eat ice cream out of the carton together, there is no reason to stop.
Let Her Lead
The last thing you want to do is overdo it. Make sure you help her and get involved to the level she wants and needs at that moment. This level may very well shift and change as time goes one. Your job is to be there when she needs you, on her terms.
You don’t need to hire a three-ring circus to take your friend’s mind off of her troubles for a little while. Just a lunch out can do wonders. Or if she prefers staying in, bring lunch and a movie to her, so that she can relax in her own environment with you and her favorite snack.
Help with finances
Personal costs often increase when women start their treatment. Things like hospital car parking, petrol, away from home accommodation and childcare costs need managing. If the household budget is already tight, then this can add to the family’s stress. Often women with breast cancer have to step
back from paid work as they may feel unwell, tired or have to travel for treatment.
Pink is the universal symbol for breast cancer awareness and products supporting the cause. A little food coloring in your
cupcakes and you have pink velvet cake with pink icing, and your friend will feel the love in that one that you salvage from your kid’s bake sale to bring to her.