Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us. Most people know someone who has been touched in some way by cancer. If you’ve heard the news that your friend has successfully survived cancer, there are ways you can help.
Surviving is a giant step forward, but transitioning back to life is another important part of the battle. Your friend’s life has likely been monopolized by cancer treatments and reports over the duration of their illness. They have been immersed in medical care, and others may have come to treat them differently due to their situation. They may have had multiple surgeries and lost their hair as a result of treatment procedures. In more ways than one, their life may feel far from the normal version they left behind.
If you have a friend in this situation, here’s how you can help:
- Engage them in conversation. To make your friend feel normal again, don’t focus too heavily on their illness. After all, that should not define them. Instead, focus on appreciating them for being a strong, capable person who has conquered obstacles. Make the effort to talk about other things—the usual things that they enjoyed before their diagnosis.
- Use social media. Take selfies often and post them (with their permission). For your friend, being photographed and having someone post those photos can validate their identity as a vibrant, thriving person who is experiencing ongoing adventures. Social media posts can also serve as an announcement to the world that your friend is feeling well again and ready to move forward.
- Give gifts. Sometimes it is the simple gestures that make a person feel normal again. Treat your friend to lunch or drop a plate of cookies on their doorstep unexpectedly. Though life has felt heavy, these simple kindnesses can add spontaneity and joy back into their life.
- Plan outings. Cancer treatment can make people feel isolated, so do as much as you can to keep your friend active and engaged. Take regular walks together or plan outings for hiking or fishing. The great outdoors can provide powerful post-cancer therapy.