In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, North York Medical Center is doing a 4-part series on actionable things that everyone can do to take care of themselves and those around them.
According to Health Canada, breast cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Canada and the #1 cancer affecting women across the country. This is the final installment of North York Medical Center’s 4-part series on Breast Cancer.
1. Take care of their everyday practical needs
Sometimes, it’s hard to know exactly what a person needs and how you can help them. But by taking the initiative to run everyday errands, you can provide moral support to your loved one with simple tasks that just need to be done.
Here are some examples of ways that you can help:
- Offer transportation to and from appointments
- Childcare and rides
- Shared meals
- Buy them fashionable masks
If you live with your loved one, you can even pick up some chores, such as cleaning and cooking, making their beds, and making them breakfast.
2. Be there for them after treatments
Showing your willingness and making the time to be there for a loved one in their most difficult times can be a significant source of support.
Chemotherapy sessions take a huge physical and emotional toll on a person. If your loved one is comfortable with it, accompany them to their sessions for a fun chat and get to meet the other patients that your loved one interacts with on a regular basis.
3. Celebrate instead of worrying with them
If you’re the type to worry out loud, try not to do it around your loved one. It will likely contribute to their anxiety and daily exhaustion. Trust us – your loved one with cancer knows they have cancer.
Avoid the common trap of seeing your loved one as nothing but their diagnosis. We encourage you to continue celebrating and enjoying regular events that remind them of who they are beyond their diagnosis. Having said that, reassure that they don’t have to match your energy all the time!
4. Do your research
Being curious and wanting to know about cancer and your loved one’s struggle is a commendable quality. However, avoid putting the burden of answering all those questions onto your loved one. While they’ll understand your intention, constantly answering questions about their condition can be an exhausting task itself.
There is a wealth of knowledge online, created and shared by health experts, advocates, and survivors alike. But at the end of the day, everyone’s experience of this disease is unique. Every struggle is different. Listen and talk to your loved one about their personal experience with breast cancer.
Here are a few resources to help you get started:
- Canadian Cancer Society
- Huffington Post’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month page. Most of the articles are a few years old, but their insight and support are timeless.
- Cancer Connection – an online community for people facing cancer and their supporters
- @paige_previvor for survivors of predisposition to breast cancer and scar empowerment
- @dearcancer_itsme for real experiences “beyond the pink ribbons” with breast cancer and raising children
- @browngirlandbrcaplus for representation of women of colour in BRCA and previvor communities
- @acampoverdi for Latinx representation in the BRCA community
This brings us to the end of our 4-part series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram (@northyorkmedical) , and Facebook (@NorthYorkMedical) for updates on our blog posts.