Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A list of do’s and don’ts to say to someone who is sick


Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A list of do's and don'ts to say to someone who is sick

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A list of do’s and don’ts to say to someone who is sick | Photo Credits: iStock Images
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New Delhi: Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers and the leading cause of death, especially in women. October is celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease and educate people about breast cancer prevention, treatment and risk.

As we observe this month amid the COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the world, it is important to understand the impact of the disease on people’s mental health, especially when it has struck worst as a result of the stress of the pandemic. As important as it is to know the symptoms, causes and methods of prevention of the disease, it is equally important to know how to deal with someone who suffers from it and/or has been a victim of it in the past. As we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when people may need each other’s support more than ever, here’s a list of a few things you should and shouldn’t say to someone suffering from the disease.

Do’s and Don’ts to Say to Someone Suffering From Breast Cancer

  1. To get over it – The disease can be not only life-threatening, but also life-altering. If you know someone who has the disease or is currently battling it, don’t come to them with the “get over it” solution. Dealing with the after-effects of an illness can also be equally difficult and negatively impact your physical and mental health.
  2. They don’t need their breasts – Breast cancer probably affects older women more than younger ones. Very often these older women who have already undergone various changes in their bodies hear people say that it is okay that they have the disease because they no longer need their breasts to feed their newborns. However, they often fail to understand that such drastic changes can also have a profound impact on a person’s psychological health.
  3. It’s just her – Patients with breast cancer often undergo chemotherapy as a treatment, which can lead to hair loss and baldness. Many people think that telling a patient that it is just hair and that it will grow back is comforting, or that they can fix it with a wig. Not only is it insensitive, but it is derogatory to reduce their illness to just hair loss.
  4. Give unnecessary tips – We all believe in the power of home remedies and some miraculous ways to cure certain diseases. Unfortunately, these cures or remedies do not work for cancer. Giving patients unnecessary tips on how to “cure” their cancer can not only make the problem worse, but can also make them feel like they are not doing enough for their health.
  5. Blame them – Breast cancer is caused by several factors. Some of these factors are under our control, such as our lifestyle, while others are not, such as genetics. Blaming the patient that it is because of their carelessness or lifestyle that they got the disease is not correct as many people may not get the disease even if they follow a similar lifestyle simply because it does not run in their family .

What to say instead?

It is important to be supportive and understanding of the pain a breast cancer patient is going through. Just asking how they are doing, keeping their appointments and treatments, and helping them lead normal lives are a few things we can do. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s best not to say anything at all.

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