This post was sponsored by Clever Girls
Finding out someone you love has breast cancer is life changing. There is a fear that can't be known until the C word is said aloud. A fear of the unknown, fear of pain death and change.
I know these fears all to well. I don't need October to be aware of breast cancer because I have been aware of it's devastating effects since I was just a girl. Diagnosis after diagnosis, story after story. Pain, sickness, fear, sorrow, death. This is what I've known. But I've known another side as well. I've known faith, hope, unconditional love, strength, and beauty.
My grandmother and her sisters began to teach me about breast cancer through the stories of their own. Then my mother in law Beverly lived it out in front of me. She was cleared after fighting her battle and then quickly taken from us not long after. I know of triumph and defeat. Now I face my own challenges. As you may already know, I am BRCA1 positive. In a world where positive actually has negative affects. I am on my own journey now, and making choices that will change me, my body, my life.
Today I'm sharing my opinions. That's all. I'm not an expert, and I can't attest to how these words would be taken by someone battling breast cancer. Yes, that's my disclaimer because the business of dealing with breast cancer is a tricky one. It's so personal and hard to predict. I can tell you from my own experiences and what I think I would want, since I have spent so much time considering myself in this scenario.
10 Ways to Help Someone You Love Through Breast Cancer:
- Wait: When someone you love tells you, they have breast cancer wait for them to share the details, wait to talk about it, and wait before you take any actions whatsoever. When you find out someone you love has breast cancer it will be shocking and you may want to say things, do things, and talk to other people about it. The best thing you can do is wait on the person you love to give you clues as to what to do. If they told you over the phone they may not be ready for visitors, they may not want everyone to know, and they are probably in shock themselves so be careful with what you say. The best thing to say is I'm sorry, I love you, and I'm here for you. You can also make it clear that if they need anything at all you will be there. Let the person you love lead in this experience and try to remember it's not about you. While you may be scared, they have to live it so try not to talk about your own feelings initially.
- Say It, Mean It: If you say you're going to be there, be there. At all hours, all times, on the phone, in person. Be there to go to appointments, to sit with then while they nap, to pick up meds or run errands, to wipe away tears, and to hold them.
- Listen and Learn: When they talk, listen. Listen to they type of cancer they have, the medications they are on, their schedule, the names of their doctors. Listen to the doctors at appointments if they need you to. Listen and then research. Learn everything you can about what they have, what they are going through, side effects of medications and chemotherapy. Arm yourself with knowledge so you can help in any way you need to. Watch for signs that they may be in trouble and need medical attention. Be prepared for the worst and pray for the best.
- Pray Without Ceasing: There is nothing you can do that will benefit the person you love more than praying for them. Praying for them is not only helpful for them, but it's also helpful to you as well. It keeps your mind right, your hope set, your faith strong, and in turn you can be the strength they need you to be. Don't stop praying and pray for everything. Pray for healing, peace, periods of time without pain, refreshment, renewed hope, strength for the one you love. You can and should pray about everything. Pray about their health insurance, cancer research, the wigs she wears, don't let anything slip by the pages of your prayer journal. Ask others to pray as well. Start a prayer group. You don't have to give details if she is still keeping her diagnosis private.
- Make Her Feel Alive & Beautiful: Never underestimate the power of a beautiful sunset, the sounds of the ocean, or a bouquet of flowers. Help her remember she's beautiful. If she's feeling up to it take her somewhere beautiful or to a place that she loves. Do anything you can to keep her spirits up and remind her that even without hair she's the most beautiful woman you know.
- Respect Her Sickness: Don't bring children around when her immune system is weak. Make sure other people are careful when visiting her and do all you can to keep her as healthy as possible while she is at her weakest. If there are children in the family, make it a point to let them video chat so she's safe but still a part of the family and able to enjoy the presence of those she loves most.
- Be Her Biggest Cheerleader: You can listen to her struggles and fears and still spur her on. Use every opportunity to give her hope. Keep your negativity at home and if she's depressed or negative about her situation don't feed into it. Listen to her, understand her, but always cheer her on. When she says she can't do it anymore, you remind her of times she's overcome. Tell her how proud you are of her, what an inspiration she is to you and others. Let her know you understand why she feels hopeless and then spur her on to hope again.
- Don't Ask Just Do: After treatment starts take care of her and her family. Cook the meals, clean the house, pay the bills, run the errands, answer the phone calls. Whatever she would be doing but can't, those are the things you can do. Don't make it a big deal, just sneak in and get it done and when she's healthy enough (or thinks she is) to do it herself back off so she can enjoy the things she's missed doing.
- Enjoy Evey Moment: Throughout the entire cancer journey (which never truly ends) make every moment you get with her count. Make every phone call, every hug, every visit, everything you do with and for her... make it count. Don't take one second for granted. Even when she gets the all clear, don't go back to life as usual. She could be ripped away unexpectedly any minute. Spend as much time as you can with her. Make sure she knows how much you love her and how she has made you feel loved. Don't miss a chance to hold her hand, tell her you love her, hug her, or listen to her sweet laugh. Don't miss it. Please don't miss it.
- Make Her Cause Your Cause: You are now touched by Breast Cancer. It's not just her battle; it's yours now. Spread awareness, check yourself, raise money for research, support worthy charities, get to know other patients and survivors. Do something to fight back.
Number 10 is the reason for this post. For as long as I can, using this blog I will make her cause my cause. I will share things here to increase awareness not only of breast cancer but of BRCA g mutations. I will share ways you can support those affected by breast cancer and how you can help raise funds for cancer research prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and a cure. This was her fight, it is now my fight, and it is your fight too.
Today's spotlight is on Aflac and their partnership with the American Association for Cancer Research Foundation. You may have already heard about their campaign called This Duck Wears Pink, but in case you haven't I'm going to share a little about it with you.
Here are some facts for you:
- Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women, with skin cancer being the first.1
- About 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.1
- Approximately 231,340 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.1
- Breast cancer patients with employer-sponsored health insurance spend $6,553 out-of-pocket.2
Early detection is the most valuable resource when it comes to fighting cancer. Get checked! Schedule your mamograms, get tested for cancer causing gene mutations, and know your body. Consider a cancer insurance policy so you can get the best treatment available. A cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but also for extra child care that may be needed, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries. If you or a family member does end up being diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer, you want to be able to focus on recovery not finances, and a cancer insurance policy can help you do just that. Plus, with Aflac’s recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.*
** Watch this video to see how Aflac’s cancer insurance policy helped policyholder Celia through her breast cancer journey.**
This year Aflac is selling a variety of campaign-related merchandise including the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin, with all the net proceeds going to the AACR for the specific purpose of funding research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.Aflac supports the groundbreaking work of the AACR – the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer. The AACR backs every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research.
1 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015
2 Everyday Health, “Coping With the Cost of Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015