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What others can do to help

10/18/2013, 6 a.m.

A woman who is in the process of fighting breast cancer needs a great deal of support. Some days can be hard to get through, and a well-organized support network can make all the difference.

Who will do the shopping and the housework? Who will come with me to my treatments? How can I find the time to rest? Many women have difficulty asking for help. Shyness, pride or the fear of disturbing others prevails. And yet, being given a helping hand can facilitate adaptation to the changes caused by the cancer. When a woman accepts help from others, she is giving herself extra resources in order to fight this disease. These other people will include members of the family, of course, but also friends, co-workers, volunteers, neighbors, or someone who has lived through a similar experience.

As well as providing support for the woman living with cancer, this network can give valuable help to her partner and children. Even under the best of circumstances, cancer can put a great deal of stress on family life. Everyone’s roles and responsibilities can change, and children and spouse alike are exposed to feelings of insecurity. On those more difficult days, it is reassuring to be able to count on someone, even if it’s only to walk the dog, prepare a hot meal, or take the children to the movies.

A woman living with breast cancer also needs someone to talk to. She needs to be able to talk when she feels the need, or to be quiet without being questioned. Supporters and friends can be a big help with this as well.