Beast cancer treatment is a daunting process. These survivors have lots of ideas of how to best provide a circle of support for those undergoing cancer treatment (and how to continue to show care during breast cancer recovery).

By Alyssa Shaffer
September 25, 2018

It's not easy to know how to help a friend or family member who is facing a breast cancer diagnosis (beyond giving them a big hug). So we turned to the experts, women who have battled—or are battling—the breast cancer, to find out what helped them the most during cancer treatment and recovery.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
| Credit: Womans hands holding pink breast cancer awareness ribbon

Breast Cancer Care Tip #1: Just Be There

  • "My mom sat in the chemo room with  me, and we played games like word puzzles. It took my mind off things and helped pass the time. Other patients would join in, and we’d all have a good time!"  —Kerry Horsley, 39, Omaha, NE
  • "A cancer diagnosis comes with information overload, so I was grateful for friends who didn’t try to give medical advice. Rather than making me feel overwhelmed, they just offered to listen, helped me formulate questions, or came to appointments to take notes." — Megan Anne Stull, 38, Arlington, VA
  • "So many people want to tell you what you should do (be positive; eat right) or should have done, or share their experience with the disease (my aunt died of breast cancer). While they mean well, it just isn’t helpful. Having someone who lets you cry or complain, and who you can be ‘real’ with was hugely helpful. For me, it was my dad." —Michelle Esser, 47, Blue Bell, PA
  • "My sister, who lives six hours away, came down with her kids and spent a few days with me before and after my surgery. Just having someone there to talk with made a bigger difference than I thought it would." — Jilda Nettleton, 50, Pacifica, CA

Breast Cancer Care Tip #2: Think About the Basics

  • "I was graciously sent a housekeeper who came every two weeks for a year. It was heaven not to worry about cleaning my bathrooms and instead spend the precious time I felt OK with my family."  —Brittany Stalvey, 31, Leesburg, GA
  • "Family and friends set up a site for me. People signed up for three times a week, brought enough food for two nights, and several brought freezer meals to fill in on the nights that I didn’t have anyone signed up."  —Jami Watson, 40, Brandon, MS
  • "My cousin would just come over and make it her business to help me out. She became my official driver to and from treatments, helped my kids get their homework done, and even tucked me into bed."  —Yvonne Edwards, 50, Atlanta, GA 

Breast Cancer Care Tip #3: Cheerlead

  • "A relative made #mikabeatscancer decals for my friends and family. They put the decals on their cars, laptops, water bottles, and posted photos on Facebook and Instagram. The visual representation of their support has been very uplifting!"  —Joanne Hayashi, 34, Kaneohe, HI
  • "My coworkers from different parts of the country had Team Haley T-shirts made and surprised me the day of my surgery by sending me pictures of everyone wearing them. They wore them every Friday that I had treatment. To know that I had so many people supporting me was amazing."  —Haley Heupel, 30, Florence, AL
  • "I knew that losing my hair was going  to be difficult, so my friend helped me shave it off before it fell out. A cancer diagnosis can make you feel like you’ve lost control; she helped me take control of the one thing that upset me most."  —Nicole Shorey, 37, Harrisburg, PA
  • "Shortly after I was diagnosed, I got two care packages. One was a Box of Sunshine, with everything yellow: candles, soap, lemon candy. The other had fun things like a bag of gummy bears ('in case you need to bite someone’s head off') and crayons and coloring books so my kids could decorate my room with pictures. Another friend texted me emoticons several times a day just so I knew that she was thinking about me without feeling like I had to respond."  —Nicole Phillips, 41, Athens, OH


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