Here at AnaOno, we have the most incredibly supportive online community of ALL TIME. (And yes, we’re totally bragging!) The people on both our Instagram and Facebook pages work tirelessly to inspire, support, advocate and educate for those both within and outside of the breast cancer sphere, and help them thrive through their diagnosis, treatment, and surgeries.
Last week, we asked our social media community:
“What is something a friend did for you during your diagnosis, surgery or treatment that made you feel extra taken care of, extra special and extra loved on? How did they make you feel like you were #neveralone?
While the responses we got back were nothing short of thoughtful and heartfelt, they were also extremely practical ways to help a loved one through a tough time. Based on this generous feedback, we’ve put together a list of our favorite answers that will help you help your loved one if they have recently been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Going through cancer treatments and breast surgeries (no matter what kind) has the ability to impact on your loved one's self-esteem. Schedule a beauty day for them to feel pampered, relaxed and taken care of:
“One of my friends that’s a massage therapist came over and rubbed my shoulders and back while we chatted, “ After my mastectomy, it was all so tight and sore...it was wonderful and so kind.” -Cathy H.
While recovering from a mastectomy, your friend’s range of motion will be extremely restricted, so it is difficult (if not impossible) to wash or style their own hair. @k_titlek_title’s hairstylist friend “offered up a few washes at the salon on the house! It felt great to have clean hair and not have to spend a bunch to get the comfort boost.”
“My friend showed up at my place a couple of days before surgery with all the things I need for recovery. From a pillow to strap between a seatbelt and surgery sight with a case that said “hello beautiful” to safety pins for drains to alcohol pads to clean drains and a cooling face mask to relax. She thought of every detail and made me feel loved through her careful selection and time put into it. And it was all very useful.” -@jacqueline.rocio.arellano
Prepare your friend for her big surgery day with the bras and essentials that will help her heal. Photo courtesy of Junice (@youngandmetastatic)
Wondering what things your friend needs to prepare for her upcoming breast surgery? We’ve got you covered. Check out our blog on the essential items you can get her so she is prepped and ready for the big day. Just make sure when shopping for your BFF, you’ll want to make sure she is fully stocked up on post-mastectomy bras that will keep her comfortable and as relaxed and possible while she is healing up. A post-surgical front closing bra, like The Rora Bra will support her post-surgery and provide comfort to her sensitive body. Wirefree and extremely soft, this bra is not functional for healing, but also pretty enough to remind her that she is still beautiful no matter how surgery may make her feel.
Complete her post-surgical at-home healing wardrobe with The Miena Robe. Not only is it lush and gorgeous, but is also functional to her healing process as well. Designed with a drain management belt, this must-have healing garment will allow her to move freely around the house following her surgery without the burden of the drains getting in her way. The best part? Once she is healed, she can remove the belt and wear the robe around the house as normal.
Going out of your way to care for your friend's family when she is too sick or too weak to get out of bed can be not only to her but to her entire family. Whether it’s picking up her kids after school, cooking a healthy dinner for them to eat, or arranging playdates on weekends so she can rest, a little bit of help goes a long way.
“My ENTIRE sister-friends circle set up a schedule so that someone was always in my home each day and spending the night EVERY night for as long as I needed help with my son, who was only 13 when I was diagnosed as a single mom. (I had FIVE surgeries in all, so we are talking months y’all!) Making sure we were loved on, prayed for, and supported. It was like a well-oiled machine and they never missed a beat!❤️🙌🏽” -Monica L. (@that_moni_gurl)
Monica and her Son, Christmas 2014
When your friend is dealing with a cancer diagnosis, chances are, it’s hard for them to take their mind off their current condition, especially if they are cramped up at home! Change up their surroundings with fun outings, activities, and dates that will remind them that they are HUMAN and NORMAL, even if what they are facing makes them feel anything but.
“My wonderful friend would schedule lunch with me weekly to get me out of the house and forget that I was “sick” even for a few hours. Although I didn’t want to go sometimes because I was exhausted, I would always go and never regretted it. Made me feel “normal”’ -@roalv
Take out your friend or schedule a girls night in. No matter what you do, be there for them.
It goes without saying that chemo SUCKS. Make your friend’s appointments a little more bearable by turning each session into something fun.
Chemo is the worst, but with you by her side to cheer her up, it’ll be bearable.
“My friends and family made every chemo session into a chemo party. Legit had 5-10 people every time with food and drinks. Made me feel like I had an army going through cancer with me. At my last chemo there was like 30 people there. I had never felt so loved. And I really appreciated people just spending time with me. Even if it was just watching tv in silence.”
Last but not least, all your friend really needs, is for you to be there for them. No frills, no expectations, just you being you, and being there. Having trouble figuring out what to do with your friend who is going through chemo? A stay-in movie night with her favorite foods is ALWAYS a good idea:
“A friend of mine would meet me at my house every Friday, after treatment, with food and movies. I couldn’t always eat but loved the company and support!" -@kimberlymillage
Kimberly and her friend spending some quality time together one day after treatment. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Millage
Holding her hand through it will mean the world to her even if you don’t know what to say. Being there for your friend with breast cancer is actually a lot easier (and more practical!) then you might think. By just showing up, being there and loving on her you are doing everything she needs.
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At AnaOno we love sharing information with our community when the information can help with successful treatment, recovery and wellbeing. Artist, parent, philanthropist and BRCA1 previvor Samantha Paige follows up her popular guest post about her explant decision, with her Last Cut process, a six-step decision-making framework.