A loved one just got diagnosed with breast cancer… now what?
Nurse clinician Ms Wong Wan Hua, who works in the Breast Care Centre at National University Hospital, tells us what we can do to help.
Help her run errands
The battle against cancer takes a toll on the body. Whenever you can, help her out with physically-demanding chores like housework, shopping, and cooking.
Encourage her to get a haircut
Hair will start to fall off after chemotherapy, and for those with long hair, the experience can be upsetting. Going for a shorter hairstyle can help to ease the patient into things.
Ask her ‘what are you feeling’ instead of ‘how are you feeling’
“This helps to dig a little deeper into the person’s concerns. Most of the time, when you ask someone how they’re feeling, the response will usually be ‘fine’ or ‘OK’. This does not allow for much discussion,” says Ms Wong.
Introduce her to a fellow breast cancer survivor
Just knowing someone else who has been through the same thing before can be a great source of strength. The Breast Cancer Foundation and Singapore Cancer Society have befriender programmes, where survivor volunteers can provide counselling support as well.
Plan little surprises for her
Things like get-well cards, flowers, or even a small gift of achievement for completing a treatment can be very encouraging.
Take care of yourself as well
If you’re a caregiver, make sure you avoid burnout. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire someone if need be.