Breast Cancer Caregiver Tips
A Personal Story
Cancer has touched everyone's lives at one point or another but seldom does it affect you more than when it happens to a close friend of family member. In my case, it happened to my mom in 2002.
I was just starting high school and getting used to things. And so were my parents. But one day in October 2002- she felt a lump in her breast and decided to go to the doctor.
What we were hoping was a benign tumor turned out to be cancer. The doctor said that since it was Stage 1 that a lumpectomy should remove the disease. So my mom did just that and was successfully operated on.
However, she still needed chemotherapy and radiation. After that was complete, we thought we cancer was through with us. We were wrong.
In 2004, the cancer came back. And this time the doctor said it would be best that my mom have a mastectomy. But unlike before she didn't just listen to her doctor, she went and got a second opinion.
By the winter of 2005, she had undergone further treatment and declared cancer-free but even with that knowledge, the fear of cancer coming back and ripping a hole through our lives was still there.
Thankfully it has been seven years since we've dealt with breast cancer but what we learned and experienced will affect the rest of our lives.
- Breast cancer - MayoClinic.com
Breast cancer — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment of breast cancer in women.
- Breast cancer - PubMed Health
Breast cancer is a cancer that starts in the tissues of the breast. There are two main types of breast cancer:
- Information, Awareness & Donations - National Breast Cancer Foundation
Basic Dos and Don'ts
In this hub I hope to provide basic information about what it is like to be a breast cancer caregiver. There is no science or art to it but you have to be aware of the fact that caring for someone with Breast Cancer is different than anything you have previously dealt with.
- Do Educate Yourself on the Disease: There are plenty of books and websites that can explain what breast cancer is.
- Do Talk to Cancer Survivors: Find out which local groups and organizations have sessions which you can attend. Talk to a survivor who knows about everything from treatment to recovery.
- Do Make them Laugh: Laughter is one of nature's best medicines. It can not alter pain or suffering but it can offer a much needed smile to your loved one.
- Do Compliment Their Appearance: Men or women experiencing cancer not only go through surgery bu their cosmetic appearance changes, which affects their confidence. Make them feel good about themselves by complimenting their appearance or buying accessories that might them feel better.
- Do Not Say "I Know": There is no way of knowing what cancer is like except if you went through it yourself.
- Do Not Drastically Alter Your Relationship: By this, I mean do not specifically go out of your way to act like a doctor or nurse instead of friend or loved one. While there are times you will need to care for them, you do not want to make them feel the say way their doctor does.
- Do Not be a WebMD Doctor: I urge this to any and everyone- the internet is a resource not a guidebook.
Breast Cancer Foundations
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure
The largest private organization devoted to raising funds for awareness, treatment, and prevention of Breast Cancer
- BCRF :: providing critical funding for innovative clinical and genetic research
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is an independent not-for-profit organization whose mission is to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and genetic research at lead
Helping with Lifestyle Adjustments
One of the hardest parts of dealing with cancer is trying to make adjustments to lifestyle. Here are some tips to help with changing lifelong habits.
- Make Healthy Eating Fun: Most studies and research show that your diet effects your health. So instead of making it a chore, make it an adventure. We tried ground turkey in lieu of ground beef, as well as wheat pasta instead of white. None of these changes were permanent but we made an adventure out of trying new foods.
- Make Exercise a Priority: The importance of remaining physically active is evident in how studies have shown exercise is a key element in a healthy post-cancer life. We bought a treadmill and made a point out of being more active.
- Spend Quality Time Together: One thing cancer makes you realize is how important it is to utilize the time you have with those you love and care for the most. It does not mean radically changing your schedule but putting down the remote or the fantasy football every once in a while to get face time is always a good thing.
- Join a Community or Online Support Group: This was something we should have looked into more. While we did help my mom with a local support group she tried to start, nobody thought of the internet for support. But either, way it's good to get involved by hearing how others have made it or are still going through the day to day journey.
There are very few things I admit to hating in life but cancer is one of them I will proudly admit to hating. Not only is it selfish, time-consuming and draining on the individual experiencing cancer- it does so to the family and friends of the patient as well.
But as much as it would like to claim the victory it is being defeated slowly but surely. With charities such as Stand Up to Cancer, Relay for Life, and many others. Breast Cancer in particular has alot of charities that you can donate your time, energy, and money to.
Recently, I attended the funeral of a woman I was blessed to meet who ultimately succumbed to Breast Cancer. And even though she did not survive, the fighting spirit she had did. Her nephew said it best, "Cancer may take a life but it can never take a spirit."
I dedicate this hub to the memory and the legacy of those who have fought boldly but are no longer with us as well as the continuing triumph of the survivors who encourage us to keep fighting.
Other Great Hubs on Cancer
- What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Thinking you may have breast cancer can be the scariest thing in the world. Before you panic, learn the symptoms of breast cancer and when you should visit a doctor.
- Cancer Etiquette
Chances are we will all be affected by cancer at sometime in our lives. This article shares the do's and don'ts from my perspective.
- Cancer Caregiver Tribute Letter
Chances are at sometime during our lifetime we just might be a caregiver to a loved one or as a profession. Over the years as a caregiver I've learned to appreciate and admire these amazing angels on earth...