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Breast Cancer,Breast cancer in males,oncology,chemotherapy

How to Help Your Family Member Diagnosed with Breast Cancer?

Social conditioning has led to the term “breast cancer” being associated with women. According to a survey, the number of women undergoing breast cancer tests is almost triple the number of men.

But the fact of the matter is that breast cancer affects men, too. Either way, getting diagnosed with cancer is heartbreaking. Thus, the support of loved ones holds immeasurable value to a cancer patient.

As a family member, you may wonder how to cope when a loved one has cancer. You may be caught in a dilemma as to how you ought to behave and what you should do to help them.

Remember that every person is different. It is not for you to decide how they should get on with this life-altering condition. Instead, you need to be their pillar of strength.

Tips on how to help someone diagnosed with Breast cancer:

1) Understand Your Role

Trying times like these call for being open with your loved one. Ask them how involved they want you to be.

Some people would rather deal with this diagnosis by themselves or with select family members. It doesn’t help anyone if you are butting in where you are not needed.

It is much better to openly talk about their state of mind and avoid misunderstandings from the very beginning.

2) Discuss Options

Anything involving medical tests and frequent visits to the hospital can be nerve-wracking. Depending on the stage of cancer, the treatments may vary. Maybe your family member just needs someone with whom to discuss the options available.

So be their sounding board. Help them choose the path they feel most certain about, without imposing your thoughts on them.

People have a habit of taking to the internet every time they have a health-related query. Dissuade your loved one from doing the same. The internet is not the most credible space for medical advice.

Reading incorrect information can cause more harm than you’d realise. Help them understand that making an appointment with an oncologist is a far better decision.

3) Accompany Them to the Hospital

Sometimes, to console a breast cancer patient, you just need to be by their side. Offer to accompany them to the hospital for the consultation and the subsequent treatment days.

The environment in hospitals is already grim. Your family member shouldn’t have to feel like they are alone in this.

As a person who is caring for them, you can also speak to the oncologist yourself. This shows that you are attentive to your family member’s needs and willing to support them in your limited capacity.

4) Take Care of Their Dietary Changes

Chances are, your family member is already being subjected to a lot of breast cancer advice. What you can do differently is help them with their dietary routine.

Cancer treatments can lead to side effects that might disrupt their eating habits.

Moreover, it may also require the patient to eat foods with certain revitalising nutrients. Ask them what they feel like eating and if they’d want you to step in with grocery shopping or cooking.

A protein-rich spread on the table can go a long way in energising your family member.

5) Do Not Mollycoddle

Lending help is one thing. But becoming overprotective can be detrimental to the mental health of a cancer patient. Coping when a loved one has cancer is challenging, and may make you go overboard with suggestions and care.

This may cause your family member to feel like they are incapable of doing anything by themselves.

Don’t suffocate them with your constant breast cancer advice and assurances. Draw a line between being reliable and hovering around them all the time.

6) Restore a Sense of Normalcy

Knowing how to console a patient is not an exact science. Some things work, and others don’t. But almost always, patients crave a sense of normalcy.

They might prefer some aspects of their life to be untouched or unchanged by their medical condition.

Students might want to work on their assignments, and fathers might want to pitch in with household chores. Don’t admonish them for doing so.

Carry on with your life as you would and also encourage them to go about with theirs as much as possible. Do not let your conversations with them be weighed down by the diagnosis.

7) Help Other Family Members Understand

Even if you’ve wrapped your mind around how to help someone diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t mean that all your other family members have gotten the memo.

They may not know how to cope when a loved one has cancer and might make the patient feel like an invalid with their behaviour.

Of course, they mean well. But it can come across as overbearing to the person battling cancer and may even result in needless animosity among family members. So intervene if you can and shed some light on the situation.

Help everyone understand cancer from the perspective of your loved one going through this difficulty.

8) Encourage Them to Join a Support Group

No matter what’s said and done, there’s only so much you can do as a family member to console the patient. Your loved one may better be able to relate to someone who is suffering from cancer just like they are.

Joining a support group can be a positive move for their mental health. It may even make the journey of recovery more bearable.

Family members still learning to cope when a loved one has cancer also benefit from support groups.

Final Words

Your role in the life of a person going through cancer depends greatly on their outlook towards life. Along with breast cancer advice, have a heartfelt talk with your oncologists and counseling team.

They may guide you in alleviating some of the stress and pain that your family member is going through.

To help someone diagnosed with cancer, you need to be supportive, open-minded and understanding. That is what matters the most.

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal
Author: Dr. Rohan Khandelwal
Dr. Rohan Khandelwal is a renowned surgeon who has completed his fellowship in breast oncology and advanced breast surgery from esteemed institutes like The Aiello Breast Center, University of Maryland. He has garnered over 17 years of clinical experience from some of the most reputed healthcare facilities across the country. He specializes in benign and cancerous breast disorders in both genders. He is also the editor in chief for the New Indian Journal of Surgery and Journal of Young Medical Researcher.
 
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