Supporting Loved Ones With Breast Cancer
Behave NormallyAfter her surgery, Beth returned to work; she was still undergoing chemotherapy but didn’t want coworkers to view her as a sick person. “I put on my wig and acted like I always did,” she says. “And they treated me as they had before my diagnosis, which was great.” She also wanted everyone else in her life to do the same―and they did. When Jenn was pregnant and visiting her mother-in-law in the hospital, she called on Beth to give her a lift home. “I love that she didn’t even think twice to ask!” says Beth.
Beth’s boyfriend, Todd, didn’t let cancer hamper their relationship, either. “I had my last chemo session on December 22,” says Beth, “and he proposed on Christmas Day―bald head and all. He said, ‘Short hair or no hair, I love you.’” The couple got married the following November, which for Beth was the “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Stick AroundWhen Angela finished her treatment, “the phone calls and visits tapered off because everyone thought, 'She did it!' But I was still taking pills, still struggling,” says Angela. It’s often at this point, patients say, that fighting cancer becomes unexpectedly difficult. In Angela’s case, she was taking tamoxifen, which can induce menopausal symptoms; it brought on what she calls “chemically induced emotional breakdowns.” She needed support then more than ever: “Friends who called just to say ‘How are you doing?’ helped me get through that rough patch.”
Cathy received many get-well-soon notes early on, including one from Sue, a woman who works at her local drugstore and is also a breast cancer survivor. But what really amazed her was that Sue continued to send notes as time wore on. “She would almost intuitively know when I needed them,” says Cathy. They were often just words of encouragement, urging Cathy to remember to pamper herself, take naps, and simply know that she was not alone.
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