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What to Do When Your Loved One Has Been Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

• Written by @Lifeline24

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This article was contributed by Chris Smith of Spend It Like Beckham

The aftermath of a cancer diagnosis is a troubling and difficult time. This period can feel even worse when your loved one has been diagnosed.

In the UK, over 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Thankfully, 76% of these people survive and live ten or more years.

Yet, even with these statistics in mind, it's normal to feel helpless, worried, and scared. No doubt, you want to help you loved one in any way. Here are some ways you can help.

Attend Appointments

Life after a cancer diagnosis can be daunting for everyone, but especially for your partner. Keeping up with appointments, treatments, and advice can quickly become overwhelming.

By attending your partner's appointments, you'll stay informed of their condition and provide invaluable support. Take notes of ask to record these sessions to ensure all critical information is remembered. Noting down appointment dates and times is also recommended.

Plus, don't be embarrassed to ask questions. The doctor will understand this is a difficult time for you both, so asking for clarification or more information is expected.

Provide Physical Support

Fatigue is a common symptom for cancer patients. This isn't just normal tiredness either; fatigue is extreme exhaustion that isn't cured with sleep.

This symptom is prevalent in patients receiving medication, chemotherapy, or after surgery. However, it can also occur due to stress, sleep interruption, and mental health problems.

You can support your loved one by helping with physically demanding tasks. These include going shopping, helping around the house, and driving from location to location.

Be a Shoulder to Cry On

It's not just physical support your partner will need. Providing emotional support is crucial for those going through a cancer diagnosis.

It's important to remember that you can't always fix things. Your loved one isn't expecting you to find the cure for cancer or take away all their side effects. Sometimes, all they need is for you just to be there.

Talk with your loved one. Encourage open communication and, most importantly, remember to listen. Turn off all distractions and give your loved one your full undivided attention. Yet, while this support is important, remember you are not a professional. If you are worried about your loved one, don't hesitate to get them professional help.

Accept Your Relationship Will Change

This might be hard to hear, but your relationship with your loved one is bound to change with a cancer diagnosis. This doesn't mean it will change forever, but you should expect the dynamic to be different during the initial diagnosis period.

You will need to take on more of a caregiving role during this time. Things might shift while you help them with physical tasks, keep track of medication, and attend doctor's appointments. While your loved one might have been an independent person, going through a cancer diagnosis could mean they need much more support than you were used to.

If your loved one is a partner, you should expect changes to your usual intimacy. Many women with breast cancer struggle with self-esteem issues and anxiety. This is particularly true with women who receive chemotherapy or have mastectomies. These worries and doubts can impact anyone with breast cancer, however. Comforting and encouraging your loved one will help ease their feelings of discomfort. Remember, this relationship shift won't last forever. As your partner recovers, your relationship will return to how it once was. However, it's vital to help them get back to that place.

Remember to Look After Yourself

Whilst it's important to look after your loved one during their cancer diagnosis, you can't forget about yourself. The saying goes: "you can't pour water from an empty cup".

Although you want to help your loved one, you need to make time for yourself. That could be reading, watching TV, or taking a walk to clear your head. Caring for a cancer patient can be overwhelming, so reset yourself by taking some "me time".

Moreover, don't feel embarrassed to ask for help. Simply confiding in a friend or family member might be enough, but you could also ask them for help with errands. And, as always, professional help is available if you feel like you need it.

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