After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer found in women in the U.S., the Mayo Clinic reports, and one out of every eight women is likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. With such staggering statistics, it's likely each of us will know someone who has or will have breast cancer. If that unfortunate time comes, your gal pal will need support and care as never before. Support your loved one like a true sister in the following five ways:
Listen and Be Yourself
First and foremost, be a good listener. A person diagnosed with cancer is likely to be anxious, confused, angry, in shock, fearful or uncertain—or all of the above. Listening and being present can offer great comfort and strength to someone facing the uncertainty of cancer. Listen and be attentive, and continue to be the same loving friend you've always been.
Share Uplifting and Helpful Information
Show support by finding and sharing information about how to best deal with the disease. Assist your friend in exploring treatment options, community resources and local support groups. The American Cancer Society website is a great resource. Find and share uplifting success stories related to healing and treatments that have worked for others. However, be careful about giving unsolicited advice; when in doubt, just stick to sharing helpful facts.
Bring Beauty to Her Day
A number of beauty brands support breast cancer awareness month by donating a percentage of their proceeds to breast cancer-related charities. These opportunities are especially prevalent during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Clinique, Bumble and Bumble, Aveda, Murad and Clarisonic are some of the brands offering breast cancer awareness support with the purchase of select products.
October is also a great time for fall flower arrangements—show her you're thinking of her by surprising her with an autumn-themed bouquet. In addition to flowers, companies like FTD offer chocolates, gift baskets, fresh fruit, balloon arrangements, teddy bears and beautiful spa items ready to ship anywhere in the U.S.
Support Her Treatment Choices
A wide variety of decisions will have to be made in relation to her treatment process. A study by Zhang and Siminoff found that 65 percent of families reported having disagreements about routine treatment decisions. Your loved one may agonize over some of these decisions, and Dr. Nicola Davies advises caregivers and friends to act as a second set of ears while she receives information about treatment options from her doctor. Cancer survivor Anita Moorjani stresses the importance and need for cancer patients to feel supported in their treatment choices. Show support and respect for all of her decisions, regardless of whether or not you agree or would have chosen the same.
Laugh and Have Fun Together
The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” applies here. Laugh and have as much fun with your friend as you can. Invite her out for a spontaneous walk by the ocean or in a beautiful park. Sign up for activities together that support awareness and fundraising for the cure such as the Susan G. Komen 3-Day race. See funny movies, share heartwarming jokes and plan uplifting outings with other supportive friends. Cancer.org offers a wealth of energizing activity ideas, including Relay for Life, Daffodil Days, organized golf outings and elegant galas.
Alexis Little is a freelance writer who specializes in running a nonprofit. She wants to help do as much good in the world as she can.