Things You Could Say
The first thing to think about is that breast cancer is a private matter, and most women will only talk to a very select group of people. If and when they confide in you it is because you are very important to them, and they want you to know. One of the best responses you could make is very simple.
Say ‘Thank You’
Your friend or relative will have been worrying about many things, and quite often, they will be worried about your reaction. A simple, “thank-you for telling me” will confirm to the person that they made the right choice of who to tell; the next point is to keep calm and relaxed. Think about it from your friend’s perspective.
Offer Some Practical Help
Food is often a great option in this type of situation, if a woman is undergoing chemotherapy, is worrying about her family and is exhausted the last thing she is going to be thinking about is preparing food on a daily basis. Offer to cook a meal and bring it over every Wednesday night, as this also gives you an excuse to make yourself available and let her unburden herself at least once a week.
Talk About Everyday Things Such As A Great Book or Movie
Sometimes, in situations such as these, people crave normality. They are fed up of people tiptoeing around them, and so it can be quite refreshing to talk about everyday things that you have got up to, such as an excellent book or movie. Encourage them to read the book, or offer to go with them to the cinema. It is hard to overestimate how beneficial it can be to a person to have two hours outside of their reality, experiencing a normal cancer-free life.
Within reason, another simple thing to do would be to take control of the situation, in terms of doing a few simple chores. For instance, rather than offering to do laundry, tell her, “Tomorrow is laundry day, what clothes need washing? The reason behind this is that people are often embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help, and so in most cases will keep on struggling. When you make the offer, it is much easier to accept (and inwardly breath a sigh of relief) In many ways this is a practical and straightforward method for relieving pressure. They’ll turn you down if they don’t want you to do it, but they’ll still be grateful you offered.
The ‘What’s Off Limits’ Question
However, close you are to a person, there may be specific topics that a breast cancer patient merely does not want to discuss. Rather than embarrass her, or yourself, an excellent solution is to ask if there are any topics that she doesn’t feel comfortable discussing? Once that conversation is out of the way, then both of you can relax and steer the conversation towards safer topics.
Always remember that every person is different, and the very fact that they have chosen to confide in you is a sure sign that they trust and respect you, and value your opinion. A simple little text during the day to let them know you are thinking about them can make a massive difference to someone’s day. Let the person know that you are there for them, day or night, and have confidence in yourself to be their rock.