Supporting a Loved One Through Breast Cancer

When you have a loved one who is diagnosed with breast cancer, it is often hard to know how to help. You may feel lost, hurt, angry or fearful while feeling you have to keep it together for them because they are going through so much. Knowing what to say can also be hard, as things you mean as comfort can come off as anything but. So how do you proceed in this possibly terrifying new world you have found yourself in? How do you comfort and support your loved one? Keep reading, as we discuss some ways in which this can be accomplished.


Check Your Own Feelings

If you are not sure how you feel about cancer, it is likely that you will say something thoughtless when faced with it. Cancer is a terrifying prospect, and one we as a society are not taught how to properly deal with. Before you try to be there for the other person, then, stop and take a moment to think. Think about your past experiences with others who were diagnosed. Are you afraid? Angry? Unsure? Anxious? Recognize your emotions and keep them in mind as well as what the person with breast cancer may be feeling.



Above all, it is necessary to listen to what the person is telling you. Sometimes the only support a person needs is someone to vent to or rant with, someone they know has their back and can be a person to lean on until they can face the world again on bad days or someone who will let them celebrate the victories when things are going well. Be sure to show you are listening. Ask questions if you have them, and paraphrase what the person is saying to make sure that you understand. This is not the time for advice.


Offer to Be There

Cancer diagnoses are isolating. Offer to go with your friend or loved one to their doctor’s appointments. Appointments can be very overwhelming both physically and emotionally with a lot of information being flung at the breast cancer patient all at once. Take notes for them, to prevent information from getting lost.

See what else you can do- in practical terms. If your loved one has children, perhaps you could cook a meal for the family occasionally, help the children with their homework or do something else concrete to support them.


When In Doubt, Ask

No two people are alike, nor are any two breast cancer cases. If you know or have known two cancer patients, do not assume that your friend or loved one with breast cancer has the same needs or wants as the other person with cancer you knew. This should go without saying but when people are trying to be supportive, sometimes they forget to ask what sorts of support the cancer patient actually needs. Breast cancer makes people feel as if their life is spinning out of control, especially at first. Give that person back as much control as possible by listening to their wants and needs and doing as they ask.


Breast cancer diagnoses are difficult, both for the person diagnosed and their friends and family. Friends and family may be left feeling unsure, shut out and with no idea what exactly they can do to help. This article is not a definitive guide. However, it will give you a starting point, and ideas for supporting the breast cancer patient in your life.

Childhood Cancer Fact Sheet

A cancer diagnosis is always distressing, but it can be especially heartrending when the patient in question is a child. There are some notable differences between cancers in children and cancers in adults.


Here are some key facts about childhood cancer:

  • Children make up less than 1 percent of all cancer diagnoses each year.
  • Even so, about 40,000 children are treated for cancer each year.
  • Cancer is the second biggest cause of death for children, after accidents.
  • An estimated 10,380 children under the age of 15 were diagnosed with cancer in 2015.
  • The average age of children who are diagnosed with cancer is six years old.
  • Of the children diagnosed with cancer, 12 percent do not survive.
  • An estimated 1,250 children 15 and younger died from cancer in 2015 alone.
  • The rate of childhood cancer diagnoses has been increasing for the last few decades.
  • More than 80 percent of children with cancer survive 5 years or more.
  • While adult cancers tend to be related to environmental or lifestyle risk factors, childhood cancers tend to be caused by DNA changes in the body’s cells that take place early in life.
  • Cancers in children tend to respond better to treatments like chemotherapy.
  • Children’s bodies also tend to cope better with chemotherapy than adults’ bodies.
  • Because cancer treatments like chemotherapy can cause long-term side effects, child cancer survivors require careful follow-up the rest of their lives.
  • 60 percent of childhood cancer survivors suffer late effects, or side effects from cancer treatments that show up months or even years later. These can include infertility, heart failure and even secondary cancers.
  • Leukemias (cancers of the bone marrow and blood) are the most common type of cancer found in children, accounting for 30 percent of all cases.
  • The second most common type of childhood cancer are tumors of the brain and central nervous system, consisting of 26 percent of all cases.
  • There are about 375,000 adults who are survivors of childhood cancer in the United States.

Sources: American Cancer Society, CureSearch, Keaton Raphael Memorial

5 Common Cancer Myths

We’ve come a long way in how well we understand cancer, its risk factors, and how to fight it. But as awareness grows, so has misinformation. There are a lot of myths out there about what cancer is, its risk factors, and its treatments.

Let’s set the record straight. Here are five of the most common myths about cancer, and the truth about them:

  1. Cancer is a death sentence.
    Though many of the big cancer stories in the media involve life-threatening cases, this does not reflect today’s reality about cancer.

In fact, research and treatment for cancer has come a long way. According to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, patients in the United Sates now have over a 90 percent five-year survival rate for many cancers including breast, prostate, thyroid and more. The five-year survival rate for all cancers is at 66 percent.

  1. Sugar makes cancer spread.
    This myth is rooted in the fact that cancerous cells consume more glucose (sugar) than healthy cells. But that’s as far as the truth for this myth goes.

The belief that because cancer cells consume more sugar, that consuming more sugar makes cancer spread, is false. Likewise, cutting sugar out of your diet will not make cancer shrink or disappear.

  1. _____ causes cancer.
    Artificial sweeteners, cell phones, power lines, microwaves, and many other products of modern life have been said to be associated with a higher risk of cancer. But for all the items listed here, any kind of link to cancer risk has not been proven by any scientific research to date.

In fact, many of these concerns are more rumor than truth. If you have questions about whether an item can increase your risk, talk to your doctor.

  1. A person’s attitude can determine his/her cancer treatment success.
    When a person is fighting cancer, it is normal to feel all kinds of extreme emotions—including ones that are typically classified as “negative” such as sadness, anger, and discouragement.

This is okay, and there is no scientific evidence that experiencing these feelings reduces your chances of getting cancer, beating cancer, or having a recurrence.

  1. If a person’s relative gets cancer, they will, too.
    It’s true that risk factors for some cancers are genetic, not all of them are. In fact, only 5-10 percent of cancers are genetically linked.

Of course, this myth has a dangerous flip side—the belief that if an individual is not related to anyone who has had cancer, that s/he won’t ever get cancer, either. The truth is, about 40 percent of the general population gets cancer at some point in their lives, according to

Knowledge is power

Cancer can be scary, and with so many different kinds, it is hard to understand. This leads to inaccuracies and even totally non-factual information spreading.

But knowledge is power. Knowing the facts about cancer can help you make good decisions to control your risk factors, catch cancer early, and live a healthy life. If you’re not sure if something you hear about cancer is accurate, research it or ask a doctor.