Did you know that Breast Cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women in the world? Did you also know that in 2014, an estimated 24,000 Canadian women were diagnosed with breast cancer? This accounted for 1 in 4 of all newly diagnosed cancers in women.
These statements may seem frightening, however there is actually good news to come out of these numbers. Due to the evolution of technology, fewer Canadian women are dying from their disease today than in the past. In fact, Breast Cancer deaths have decreased by 42% since the peak in 1986. The scientific accomplishments in the past 30 years include the discovery of multiple targeted therapies for hormone-dependent and HER2-positive breast cancers; offering women their best chance at survival.
I recently attended a special High Tea #SupportHER event at the King Edward Hotel hosted by Listen To Lena. The event focused on the medical advances that have been made in breast cancer research and personal stories from Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley and women living with breast cancer.
Another sobering fact brought up during the event: 1 in 5 Canadians have said that a member of their close family has been diagnosed with breast cancer – so the fact is that whether directly or indirectly, breast cancer has likely affected all of us in some way.
If you know someone that has been diagnosed, how do you #SupportHer?
It can be a tricky and sensitive issue. Some people are very open about their struggles, but others (like me) tend to hide things from the world until we’re at the acceptance stage of a bad situation (or even long over it) before letting others know.
Since no two women are the same, here are a few points to consider when offering your support:
- Simply call your friend to ask how she’s doing. She may or may not pick up the phone but leaving a message, sending a text or an email (depending on how you normally communicate) can let them know you’re thinking about them. Don’t expect them to return your message – perhaps just let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready.
- Offer her a ride or company for her appointments. Hopefully she has support from a spouse or other family member but often times loved ones aren’t able to go to each and every single appointment with her. She may feel relieved for a change in routine and the little gesture can have a lot of meaning.
- Offer to be a note taker during her appointments. It can be difficult to take in and process all the information that the doctor may be relaying to her; if someone is taking notes for her it can help to ensure no details are missed and can relieve an extra unnecessary burden.
- Offer to babysit her kids. Women going through cancer treatments may have young children that still need to be looked after. Even a couple hours for herself to recover and relax could help a lot.
- If she’s feeling up for it, offer up a spa day or pamper her with high tea. Doing something fun and special to take her mind off the stresses she’s going through can help her stay positive.
- Offer support to her spouse. Often times spouses will take on her role in the family as well as their own. Offer to give her spouse a break from household responsibility for a night or offer to cook for the family
Remember to always ask before doing – as I mentioned before, everyone is different and will accept support in many different ways. The key is to be there for her in whatever capacity it is that she needs while she’s going through the difficult and overwhelming process.
It is my sincere hope that no one has to deal with breast cancer or any kind of disease for that matter. Unfortunately, there will likely come a time in life where we will need the support and care of others or we will be in the position to be a #SupportHer – it’s worth thinking about and having the conversation since it can do a world of good during a difficult time.
Do you have any tips on being a #SupportHer? Have you needed support during a tough time? What support did you find helpful?
If you would like more information on breast cancer please visit www.HERHistory.ca. Even though a lot of progress has been made there is still a huge need to do more!