Breast cancer awareness month is coming to a close and many people have been donating and supporting the cause in as many ways as possible. Meanwhile, people are being diagnosed year-round, not just in October, and many want to do what they can to help a loved one who has been diagnosed. To find out how you can make a real difference, we’ve compiled a great list of ideas on how you can support someone who needs to undergo surgery.
- Go to appointments: Drive them to their appointments and, if permitted, sit with them and be sure to take detailed notes about the conversations and information they receive. In many cases, the patient is so overwhelmed with the diagnosis and life alterations that they do not always process what doctors, specialists, and experts are telling them. Having notes to reread at their own time and pace will ease the stress and misunderstandings.
- Listen to them: Listen to them as they work out dilemmas and describe how they’re feeling or what they’re going through. It is also helpful to offer them the phone number of someone you know who has been through such an ordeal and can provide firsthand advice. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you can’t truly understand the emotional turmoil that diagnoses and surgery introduces into their lives.
- Call them: It’s natural for us to feel as though calling them is potentially bothering them and they might not be in the mood. Call them anyway, leave a message and allow them to get back to you at their pace. Make sure they know that you’re there for them when they need you.
- Help out with chores: You can head over to their place and jot down everything they need for their meals and do their grocery shopping for them. Offer to help with household chores such as dusting, vacuuming, and dog walking. Don’t ask if you can do these things, but rather, ask when and leave it open to when they’re ready to accept this form of help. Especially prepare for the days right after surgery, when they will likely need help due to limited mobility and pain.
- Accept the mood swings: Patients going through treatment or preparing for surgery are often taking certain medications that can alter their moods. In general, the entire ordeal of breast cancer can affect how a patient is feeling. After surgery, many patients will come home with a different body than they had before. Allow them to express themselves without fear of judgement. Try not to tell them how to feel and offer an open ear.
- Be consistent: Breast cancer is a long process and many patients receive an abundance of support after diagnosis however, this support tends to dwindle as time goes on. Make sure you’re showing your support and maintaining communication throughout and after their journey.
- Gain support from others: Set up a phone group, where people take turns calling to check in, carpool, and house call schedules to help maintain normalcy for kids and other family members, put together fundraisers to help with finances or events like haircut parties where people from the community can come together to show their support.
- Buy them EZbras: Women after breast surgeries are usually sent home with improvised dressings or reusable bras – all of which are uncomfortable, difficult for them to change on their own, and not designed for all of their post-op needs. We recommend purchasing EZbras for them before the surgery so that they can take it to their doctor and wake up with the dressing already on them. EZbra is a disposable, sterile, and feminine post-op bra designed for women after breast surgery. Our goal is to change the standard of care so that women can get the care they deserve and need post-op. EZbra was designed with the understanding of the immense pain, discomfort, and emotional stress involved in the recovery period after surgery, while also taking into consideration the medical needs of a patient post-op. Gift an EZbra and help make your loved one’s recovery a little bit easier.
It is important to note that each patient is different as well as how they prefer to deal with their diagnosis, so some of these ideas may not be the optimal choice. Always listen to their needs and feelings and be supportive of what they ask for and need to get through this difficult time.