We’ve written several articles about loving yourself and finding support in the past. We have articles about support groups, counselors and psychologists, and grief. But what if you aren’t the one with breast cancer? What if it’s a woman in your life that you love? Maybe a close friend or wife. Maybe she’s your mother, daughter, or sister. A woman with breast cancer needs plenty of love and support from those closest to her. Yet sometimes we may struggle with figuring out the best way to show her that love.
Check out our best advice, and scroll to the bottom to see what experts recommended to us!
Ways You Can Show Your Love
Part of what makes it difficult to show love to women with breast cancer is the fact that every woman needs a different type of love. Not every woman is the same. Some of these ideas may not seem loving to some women, while others will.
Women with breast cancer are likely experiencing a huge range of emotions. One day they may feel like crying and the next they might display anger. For some these emotions are tough to keep up with. But women with breast cancer just want to feel like they have someone else there to support them.
Let women experience their emotions. Let them talk about everything going through their minds. Or discuss how angry they are that this is happening to them. Just listen to them about whatever they feel a need to talk about.
Listening speaks volumes about how much a person cares for another. No, you can’t solve the problem. Nor can you make a woman with breast cancer feel a particular emotion that just isn’t there. But you can show her how much she means by letting her vent.
Help Around the House
As women deal with breast cancer, they will most likely need and appreciate help for a variety of tasks. But not every woman will ask for it. Plus, some women may decline offers of help even when given.
Doing necessary tasks can be a great way to help women with breast cancer. But the key is to just do them rather than ask every time.
Most women need to rest after a day of cancer treatments. They do not always feel up to completing day-to-day tasks. These tasks can be simple, like doing some housework, or more involved like preparing a meal. Either way, it is an easy way to show a woman with breast cancer that you worry about her. And it shows you are always there to help her with whatever she may need.
Help With Organization
Breast cancer brings mountains of paperwork and large medical bills. These can impact a woman’s quality of life and medical care. Offer to help organize that many medical papers women with breast cancer have. This includes getting medical bills and records all in order. Through organization, women stay more in control of their medical care. It can also save them several hundreds of dollars if there is a major insurance dispute. We recently published an article on this topic that you may find helpful.
Beyond just organization, you can try making calls relating to health insurance and services. This helps resolve any problems. If it cannot resolve them, it can at least start the process. Keep in mind that you will need to have permission to call about these subjects. Further, certain organizations may not allow you to call for another person even with permission. Figure out what you can help with and do as much as possible.
Provide Financial Support
Financial help eases the burden that many women face when paying for their medical care. Some women may be reluctant to ask for financial help. But offering some money can be a good way to show love and support.
You can do this is a huge variety of ways – financial gifts, personal loans, or even co-signing a loan. All these methods offer you and the woman you care about certain freedoms when it comes to using your help.Further, you can provide employment to someone in the family, prepay bills, or buy gift cards. Financing a woman’s hobbies can also help her feel more normal and keep her mind off the breast cancer.
If you choose to provide financial help, do not place yourself in financial trouble. When you cannot provide financial support yourself, look for support resources. Check with local welfare agencies, short-term lenders, or debt counselors. These ease a woman’s financial burden without creating a burden for yourself. Additionally, you can search for churches and charities that offer financial help.
Show Quiet Support
As women deal with breast cancer, they will likely not be in the mood to entertain friends and loved ones. Still, visitors are often appreciated as women continue their journey. During a visit, do not be demanding toward a woman with breast cancer. Be there to support her without requiring entertainment.
Additionally, sometimes a simple text, card, or flowers remind women of your love. Yet these gifts also let women rest and recuperate during their journey. If a woman is not interested in spending time with her loved ones on a particular day, do not force her to do so. Give her time to cope on her own while still letting her know that you are there to talk when she is ready.
Give Physical Love
Touch is a powerful healing tool that is often underestimated. As women go through breast cancer hold their hands and stroke their face of back. For many women, losing a breast to breast cancer can make them feel undesirable or unwomanly. Expressing concern through touch reminds women that they are the person they were before the diagnosis.
As women with breast cancer likely know, comparative advice can do more harm than good. You may think you are helping by sharing information about your own journey with cancer. Or maybe talking about another’s experience with breast cancer will provide them with some perspective.
In reality, this can de-value of what an individual woman is dealing with.
Everyone deals with various events differently. And every breast cancer diagnosis is unique. Some women react more to chemotherapy than others. Or some may experience fewer emotions. Either way, the woman you love will be going through a breast cancer journey that is different from others that you know. Let them feel how they feel.
Once a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, her availability often becomes limited. Her schedule may become filled with medical appointments and treatment sessions.
Despite this, you can still maintain a presence in her life.
Offer to go with the woman you love to her doctor’s appointments. Try going with her to chemotherapy sessions. Whatever she has to do, you can still be there for her. In some cases, bringing a friend or loved one to these types of appointments help ease women’s minds. It shows them that they are not alone in their journey. Rather, they have an entire support group ready to be there whenever they may need it.
Finally, take the time to learn a bit about breast cancer. This isn’t so you can provide comparative advice. Instead, it is so you are aware of what the woman in your life might go through in the future. It keeps you on top off new developments in treatment or reconstruction. And it prepares you for twists and turns that happen along a woman’s journey.
Further, you can encourage women you care about to stay informed, themselves. This gives them a bit more power over what is happening.
There are several places to help you stay informed as you help women along their journey. You can look through After Breast Cancer Diagnosis to learn about ways to support women with breast cancer. Plus, Men Against Breast Cancer has published a book for helping women through breast cancer.
Experts Weigh In on Showing Love Towards a Woman With Breast Cancer
We know reading information found on the internet may not always be that impactful. So, we asked a few experts to share their thoughts to help women who are dealing with breast cancer. These will help you learn more about showing love towards women with breast cancer, and may provide you with just the right words to motivate the woman you love.
“‘Being strong’ doesn’t mean not crying, not asking for help, not wondering what the future will hold. A strong person sheds a tear and licks their wounds every so often and then gets back up and fights some more.”
Dr. Kristin Marvin is a holistic health psychologist practicing in Fresno, CA and Monterey, CA. She shared these inspirational words. You can learn more about her practice at www.drkmarvin.com.
“Women battling breast cancer are commonly emotionally and physically exhausted. Showing you care with the simplest gestures of listening, being with, preparing food or taking care of chores are in my opinion the greatest ways to show love.”
These words came from Shannon Bradley, ATR-BC, LCAT. She is a licensed creative arts therapist/psychotherapist in New York City and is grateful to be a support for her clients through challenging life transitions. Learn more about her practice at www.shannonbradleylcat.com.
“Number 1 thing to do is to listen, show support by doing things, and not tell the person how to feel…. One of the nice things that happened to me when I was sick was someone brought me food and took me out.”
Dr. Alice Chang, a retired psychologist and the founder of the Academy for Cancer Wellness, shared her opinion, as well. She talked about how the simple act of taking a woman with breast cancer to a restaurant can serve as a break. It can also provide a great opportunity for women to talk about things other than the cancer.
“Most women would like time to talk about how they feel about their diagnosis and treatment without being told what they should feel or how they should feel…. [P]eople have a tendency to say ‘well this happened to me’ and what the other person feels doesn’t matter”
An anonymous therapist provided us with this quote about the challenges that some women face when discussing breast cancer.