What to Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

It’s estimated that more than 250,000 women in America will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. One in eight women will get diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. If you happen to be a friend or family member of one of those women, it can be hard to know what to do or say. You want to comfort them and give them strength, but might worry that you’ll say the wrong thing or put your foot in your mouth. To give you some guidance, here is a list of things to keep in mind when you find yourself searching for the right words:

  • Make sure they know they aren’t fighting this alone. Your instinct might be to say something like: “You will get through this.” Instead, tweak it so you say: “We will get through this together; you are not alone in this fight.” Using ‘we’ shows your loved one that you’ll be there to provide support and help. The worst feeling in the world is to feel alone, so do everything you can to be a support system for that person, whether that means going to appointments with them, listening to their fears or simply spending time together.
  • Be interested in your loved one’s treatment. Instead of asking a vague question about how they’re doing, try to get more involved by asking about their specific experience. Bring up the timeline of appointments, order of procedures or expected side effects—this shows you really care and want to be as involved as they’ll let you.
  • Take the initiative. Instead of asking them to tell you what help they might need, come up with some offers. Ask if you can help with laundry, babysit the kids so they get some alone time, or check in on an elderly parent. Being more specific might make it easier for your loved one to say yes.
  • Leave out the comparison stories. It’s common to bring up a story about someone else you know who had breast cancer in an effort to comfort your loved one, but try not to do that. Stories about others with cancer might make your loved one more anxious or nervous than they already are and no two cases are the same.
  • Feel free to do nothing sometimes. This doesn’t mean you should avoid your loved one and pretend like everything is fine, but sometimes words aren’t necessary. Be physically there, but don’t always feel the need to bring up what’s going on. Sometimes it’s enough to just offer a hand to hold, give your loved one a hug or sit on the sofa and watch a movie together.

It’s important to listen to cues that your loved one may give regarding what they do and don’t want to talk about. Don’t force them to discuss something they’d rather not and try to treat them the way you always have—they’re still the same person they were before the diagnosis.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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  1. As a 4 year Survivor, I tell everyone; keep a journal of every question they’re thinking to ask. If you don’t have them written down you’ll forget! Do ask all your questions, the only stupid one, is the one not asked! Tell the dr not to answer in medical terminology, but in English. They’re so used to being around other medical personal they sometimes forget they’re talking to patients that don’t understand. Family members or friends need to go to dr visits to pick up what the patient may not hear or hear differently. Keep family, even children in the know; they’re on this journey too and small children are more intuitive than we give them credit for. Thank everyone for their thoughts, it’s hard, since others don’t know how positive the response will be. The more positive the fight, the better your state of mind! Pray to a higher being of whatever your religion is. If you don’t have one pray anyway, one will hear you! It’s cathartic! Do question Drs if you feel the need, they’re there to help! I’ve gone back to read my journal and it’s amazing what I learned from my journey! Serf the internet, but for information only and find your dr questions from it. Be current in the years. Anything over 5 years is old info! Good luck to all whom are on their journey, or will be! I hope my words help you as they did me!

  2. Well, first, cancer is a huge business for the pharmaceutical industry to make unimaginable profits. The so-called cancer research? It is not looking for a cure for cancer. All this research is a fake to deceive people. This deception works very well, because about 99.9% of people believe in this huge industry, which is interested only in profits and power. Chemotherapy, which incidentally has never killed a cancer, costs about $ 100,000.00. So it’s about profits in the billions. So if you believe that the pharmaceutical industry will do without these profits, you probably also believe in Santa Claus. From time to time reports are published that a new miracle drug is being tested, but this is only for reassurance. Something is forgotten later. It’s all just deception.
    You have cancer and want to survive? Then you should not go to a doctor from this system. This doctor will kill you, that’s for sure because this doctor will get a lot of money if he recommends chemo or radiotherapy.
    We, the independent, scientific research center of the Dayeng Foundation know the origin of cancer very well. For more than 30 years we have been exploring the human immune system. We have developed therapies that successfully treat cancer patients. Our successes are almost 100%. So you can continue to trust and die with a profit-based system in the pharmaceutical industry, or you can trust independent scientists from a non-profit foundation. You make the choice about your life.
    Further information here: http://lupus-trust.net
    Dr. Johann Menser
    Independent, scientific research and therapy center of the Dayeng Foundation

  3. I am being treated for Stage 2A breast cancer right now — one more chemo treatment to go! My doctors have told me “we’re going for a cure here”, and I totally believe it WITHOUT QUESTION.
    Breast cancer is not automatically a death…

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