This October marks one year since my breast cancer scare.
When I first felt something, I thought I was dreaming. I continued to poke, press, and grasp at the grape-size lump for a week before admitting it was really there. Thankfully, after a core biopsy and surgical removal, the lump and my risk for cancer both went away. But the process of preparing for surgery, waiting for results, and paying for the unexpected medical crisis was still incredibly stressful.
We all hear the Breast Cancer Awareness Month ads; they suggest you perform a self-test and get your annual mammogram. What they don’t mention, however, is how to help someone else who’s actively undergoing the tests and treatments. Having gotten a small taste of the anxiety and confusion that comes with finding a lump, I’m happy to share how you—or someone you care about—can make it through this time with a little less worry.
Offer to Go Along
Attending medical appointments alone is tough; it can make you feel isolated and lost in the process. Find a friend, or be a friend, and go to these appointments together. It’s helpful to have someone in the waiting room to talk to before they’re called in and once they’re all done. Plus, if they opt to do a last-minute procedure, they may need you to drive them home.
Help with Daily Tasks
After a biopsy, surgery, chemo, or radiation treatment, your body is exhausted. The ability to tackle everyday tasks becomes a concern. I had lifting and general movement restrictions after my own biopsy and surgery, which meant no vacuuming the house or carrying groceries in from the car. For this reason, I was so appreciative when my husband and friends offered to help with what used to seem like simple tasks.
Organize a Fundraiser
As soon as the doctor recommends a testing or treatment regimen, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll have to do something to afford it. The onslaught of medical bills that follows is rarely talked about amid the exam itself, which is why it’s important to consider starting a breast cancer fundraising page online for your condition. Or, help a friend organize a benefit dinner, dance, rummage sale, kid’s game night, or similar community event. Doing so through a church, school, or social organization may offset some of the financial worry.
Keep an Open Mind
Whether you or a loved one is going through a cancer scare or series of treatments, take it one day at a time. I found myself thinking too far ahead about the “what-ifs” that may never come to fruition. Instead, focus on each day and don’t predict your test results—it’s not healthy! Use the plethora of Breast Cancer Awareness Month information to learn rather than wonder and guess. Check out the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. and the American Cancer Society for this type of insight.
Are you or a loved one going through breast cancer testing? In the comments section, tell me the most helpful thing you or someone did during this trying time.
Image source: Flickr
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.