Someone you love has breast cancer. That’s a scary thing to acknowledge, and it presents a host of challenges. Suddenly, you’re thrust into a world of medicine and caregiving. You’re not the patient, but you do need a helping hand. How can you support your friend or family member in a practical way?
If you need a place to start, check out these 24 great resources for supporting someone with breast cancer, highlighted in the following categories:
- Learning the Facts
- Supporting Roles
- Dealing with the Details
- Building Your Own Support Team
- Rallying the Community
Learning the Facts
Medical diagnoses bring a lot of questions, but you may not want to (or be able to) inundate the patient with your queries.To help your loved one out, inform yourself about the illness and the treatment options. Just make sure you choose reliable sources. The ones below can get you started.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer: About Breast Cancer
Start by learning the basics about this disease. Living Beyond Breast Cancer has a resource center. Sections include “What is Breast Cancer?” and “Types of Breast Cancer,” among others.
National Cancer Institute: Breast Cancer (Patient Version)
This government-sponsored website offers a wealth of information about various cancers. The breast cancer resource page includes statistics and treatment options.
CancerCare Fact Sheets
CancerCare offers links to information about breast cancer tests, treatments and side effects. You can learn about a specific type of cancer – triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) – here as well.
Susan G. Komen Helpline
When you’re looking for answers to specific questions, it helps to speak with an expert. The Susan G. Komen Helpline is staffed by people in the know about all things breast cancer. You can reach this cancer hotline by phone or email.
Breast Cancer Answers: Breast Cancer Surgery Basics
Breast Cancer Answers runs a YouTube channel with informative videos. If your loved one is preparing for surgery, the Breast Cancer Surgery Basics playlist may be especially helpful. Other playlists address topics like radiation therapy and anti-hormonal therapy.
Becoming a cancer caregiver can feel overwhelming, to say the least. This is likely unfamiliar territory. To make it through, study up on what’s involved in caring for a cancer patient and the best ways to help.
“Caring for Your Loved One with Cancer” Guide
CancerCare offers a free guide to being a cancer caregiver. This resource is relevant for all types of cancer diagnoses, including breast cancer.
Triage Cancer’s Home Preparation Tips
Cancer patients need a safe, healthy and relaxing home environment. Triage Cancer’s “Creating A Sanctuary At Home For Your Loved Ones” article can help you prepare.
Breast Cancer Network Australia: Early Breast Cancer Care
The days and weeks after your loved one receives a breast cancer diagnosis can feel particularly challenging. The Early Breast Cancer resource page has videos and PDFs to help you start the cancer journey. Some of the information may be Australia-specific, but there’s still plenty to glean from this robust guide.
National Cancer Institute: End-of-Life Care
Terminal diagnoses are a reality for some cancer patients. The National Cancer Institute’s End-of-Life Care resource page is a useful guide for this delicate situation.
”Support from a Distance” Guide
Living far away from a sick loved one presents a unique set of challenges. Cancer Support Community has a resource page dedicated to this topic. There’s also a downloadable booklet about long-distance caregiving.
Dealing with the Details
When cancer strikes, patients and caregivers suddenly have a lot on their plates. This includes a wide range of practical matters. Some organizations make it their mission to ease the burden. Check out what the following groups have to offer.
The American Cancer Society runs Hope Lodges throughout the country. Cancer patients and their loved ones can stay in these facilities for free during treatment.
Road to Recovery
The American Cancer Society also runs Road to Recovery, a transportation program. Volunteer drivers shuttle cancer patients to and from medical appointments.
Komen Financial Assistance Program
The Susan G. Komen organization provides monetary help for cancer patients. To request funding, a patient’s income must be under 300% of the federal poverty level.
The Pink Fund
Another source of financial assistance is The Pink Fund. It’s an option for many patients who are currently in active breast cancer treatment.
Nutrition Care for Breast Cancer Patients
You can get a free e-book from the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It focuses on providing safe and nourishing food to people with cancer.
Building Your Own Support Team
Caring for someone with breast cancer isn’t easy. But it may be hard or impossible to open up about your struggles with the patient or those on the outside. Instead, look elsewhere for support. Turn to these resources for a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Fellow caregivers often provide some of the best breast cancer information.
Breast Cancer Mentors
After Breast Cancer Diagnosis connects people dealing with breast cancer to mentors. That includes Friends and Family Mentors.
Cancer Survivors Network
The American Cancer Society maintains the Cancer Survivors Network, a free online message board. Both patients and caregivers can participate.
SHARE Caregiver Programs
The organization SHARE focuses on women’s cancers. The group hosts online educational programs and support groups for caregivers.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Caregiver Support Group
Treating TNBC can be especially challenging, so you’ll want to talk to others who understand the ups and downs. CancerCare offers free message-board support groups. Facilitated by an oncology social worker, these groups last 15 weeks each.
FORCE Caregivers/Parents Meetings
Breast cancer can run in families. If this applies to you, consider attending one of FORCE’s virtual support groups for caregivers.
Rallying the Community
Caring for a breast cancer patient is a big job. The more people who pitch in, the better. Friends and neighbors may be willing to help, but they don’t always know what to do. These resources can help you connect people to the jobs that need to be done.
Lotsa Helping Hands
The Susan G. Komen organization recommends using this service to coordinate caregiving tasks. Tools include an app, an online calendar and more. Plus, there’s a blog with posts about caregiving.
Sharing health updates with one person after another can be exhausting. Instead, get the word out by setting up a free health website from CaringBridge. While you’re there, click on the “Advice & Inspiration” tab for informative articles.
SELF Magazine’s Gift List
Even on hard days, a thoughtful gift can bring joy to someone undergoing treatment. SELF has a list of 25 practical gifts for people in chemotherapy. Use the ideas yourself, or share the list among your circle of friends.
National Breast Cancer Foundation Fundraising
To do something on a bigger scale, lead a fundraiser in your loved one’s honor. The National Breast Cancer Foundation can show you how. Proceeds will benefit women throughout the United States.