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Tips for Friends and Family

If someone close to you was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, these tips may be helpful to you. These tips were compiled using suggestions from women who are breast cancer survivors.

Treat me like I'm normal.

  • When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, they don't feel "sick." Most women don't want to be treated like they are sick. Most breast cancers are diagnosed early, so survival rates are high.
  • If your friend is having a bad day, don't treat her like she is dying. It's just one day, and she'll probably feel a little better the next day.

Just be there to listen.

  • As women with breast cancer are making decisions about their treatment options, sometimes they just need someone to listen to what they are thinking about. Don't feel like you need to give advice—just listen.

I have cancer, but I have other things going on as well.

  • Most women still have to work and take care of their families while they are undergoing breast cancer treatment and recovering. Don't forget to talk to them about these important parts of their lives.
  • Sometimes treatment and recovery make juggling everyday life difficult. See if you can help by doing something simple, like picking up her kids from school or from soccer, cooking a simple dinner on one of the days that she has treatment, or just driving her to a doctor's appointment so that she can talk and relax.

It's okay to ask me how I'm doing. Just don't ask every day.

  • Women with breast cancer appreciate your caring about them. But if you ask them too often how they are feeling, it makes them feel like they are sick. Remember, it's important to women with breast cancer that they feel and act as normally as possible.

Ask another breast cancer survivor for advice.

  • If there is a situation that you don't know how to handle with your friend, reach out to another breast cancer survivor and ask for advice. Someone who's been on this journey can give you good insight on how your friend with breast cancer may be feeling.
  • If you know women who are breast cancer survivors, ask if they would reach out to your newly diagnosed friend. Having the advice and support of women with experience really helps in areas where doctors might not be able to help, such as what to wear during radiation treatments or other "non-medical" concerns.

Celebrate life.

  • Look for simple ways to help your friend with cancer celebrate life, for instance, a note to tell her you care, a walk in the park, a funny matinee. Simple things like this can make all the difference on a difficult day.
  • Help her celebrate the milestones through her journey, e.g., finishing chemotherapy, finishing radiation therapy, reaching survival milestones. Celebrate by planning something special, or just calling to say "congratulations."

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