Be Their Warrior

A diagnosis of breast cancer is devastating not only for the individual, but also for family and friends. It can be challenging to know what to say -- a feeling of powerlessness may prevail. Supporting someone who is fighting breast cancer requires the tenacity of a warrior and the gentleness of a friend.

Supporting friends with breast cancer

Follow these suggestions when supporting someone fighting breast cancer:

Listen and be present

It is important to be a good listener. Someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer is afraid, angry and uncertain. Listening to these fears and being present with them, even in silence, can be a source of great strength for the person fighting cancer. Allowing them to express their anger and fears also demonstrates that you will be there to support them through it all, rather than abandoning them when times get tough.

Be a fact finder, not an advice giver

The initial diagnosis of breast cancer can lead to shock and anxiety. It is helpful to support the individual by gathering facts about dealing with the disease, treatment options, and community resources, such as support groups. However, helping your loved ones find information is different from giving them advice about choosing their treatment or plan of care. Listen to them as they talk about their options and be helpful by finding more information as they desire, but don't give out unsolicited advice.

Be supportive of your loved one's decision

A myriad of decisions must be made by your loved one in relation to the treatment process. Your loved one will not make these decisions lightly and it is important to be supportive of their decision, even if it is not the road you would have chosen.


Remember the old adage "laughter is the best medicine?" Don't be afraid to laugh and have fun. Living with cancer and supporting someone with cancer can be stressful, and learning to laugh together can help get you through the tough times that you will face.

Acknowledge the grieving process

The diagnosis of breast cancer for a woman attacks her very femininity and many of the treatment options continue in this attack. It is normal to go through a grieving process related to the feeling of this loss of femininity. Be supportive by listening to her anger, fear, and uncertainty and don't be afraid to hug her and touch her.

Gather a support network

A variety of support groups are available to individuals living with breast cancer, as well as for individuals supporting a loved one with breast cancer. This is one of those times where you can't do everything alone. Ensure that you have a positive group of supporters surrounding and uplifting you as you care for your loved one and don't take on more than you can realistically do. Joining a support group is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength which will be invaluable to you and your loved ones throughout this difficult time.

Have some fun

Go do something fun! It is vital to focus on more than just the disease, because your loved one is so much more than a diagnosis. It is important to do something fun – plan a girl's night chick-flick movie marathon (or horror flick marathon if that is more to your liking), or, pending your loved one's energy level, go out to the park, go to a game, take a walk, or go out to dinner. It is OK to laugh and have fun.

Be yourself

It can be challenging to know what to do or say when supporting someone living with breast cancer, but it is important to be yourself. Being genuine shows your loved one how much you truly care about him or her as an individual, not a disease.

A warrior has strength and is prepared to fight through the challenges. Living with breast cancer requires the strength, steadfastness, and determination of a warrior; yet it cannot be done alone; it requires an equally strong and driven group of warriors who will support their loved ones through the highs and lows -- never giving up and never letting go.

More on breast cancer

Find more information about breast cancer and tips on support at SheKnows Breast Cancer >



Comments on "How to support someone fighting breast cancer"

Sharon September 02, 2013 | 6:07 AM

Hi, my dear friend has breast cancer and was informed she was terminal ( that was 4 years ago ) and the fight goes on. I agree with everyone who supports someone, laugh like you never laugh, be there for them no matter what the time, do mad stupid stuff and the hugs, smiles, wrinkled noses will all get you through. Be strong and you will get through the next day and never stop believing - we have had months longer with her - just have faith

Mike May 21, 2013 | 4:46 PM

I met my girlfriend last July when she had just had her first chemo treatment after a double mastectomy. I supprted her, fell in love with her and after a few months, she did the same with me. I promised her that whatever happened, I would go through the fire with her, hold her hand and never look back. She had a couple of complications with the chemo, one in which required emergency surgery. I was with her the whole time. Now, 9 months after we meet,treatments are over and reconstructive surgery nearing its completion, she disappears without any explanation. I love her like there is no tomorrow. Im trying desperately to give her space and time and be understanding, but I feel used and taken adavantage of. I'm wondering if this is familiar behavior for women in her situation or coming from something unrelated.

Terri May 11, 2013 | 6:34 PM

Last week my beautiful twin sister been diagnosed with breast cancer, it was the most devastating news as a family could ever hear. Today is mother's day & we decided to celebrate with a choccy mud cake (her fav)through tears of joy & family gathered, this moment will always be treasured forever.I want to thank her friends, Cheryl,Lisa,Monica, Katie for your love and support, but most of all her son Jireh. To everyone dealing with cancer, stay strong and be positive!!

renee October 09, 2012 | 7:34 PM

I just found out my beautiful sister-in-law was diagnosed with breasted cancer. She called me because she doesn't want to tell anyone else because they'll be too emotional and I'm string and have been through a lot. So I listened...said nothing until she was through and was as positive ad I could be. But it really was one of the most difficult phone calls I've taken. I'm sure it was just as hard for her. We have always laughed and joked about everything I'm hoping to keep her spirits up. I just love her so much. I stayed strong on the phone but fell apart after. Keeping a secret like this from her parents, my parents and my brother is going to be tough..,but if that's what she wants mums the word...until she's ready. P.S. she and my brother are divorced but great friends. Thanks for letting me get this off my head.

Margie Perez September 11, 2012 | 8:34 AM

Just found out that my dear friend Tracy has an aunt fighting cancer. To Lynette and every one who is dealing with illness to stay strong and never give up. God has the power to heal you. Stay positive & Keep the faith!!!

Mary Chase April 09, 2012 | 8:49 PM

I have told all my friends. They want to know what they can do to help. Is it ok to make alist of things that might be hekpful for us. It's hard to come upwithspefifics and I know they want to help. Should i make a list and hand it out?

Sara January 03, 2012 | 2:23 PM

But how do I find support for supporting someone with Breast Cancer. There are support groups for people fighting breast cancer, but the supporters need support, too.

jaxbiker May 27, 2011 | 1:55 AM

Very helpful advice - my friend is awaiting diagnosis and I want to be the best support that I can be - thanks for the tips - very helpful!

Gemma March 29, 2011 | 10:02 AM

a friend i work with is currently waiting to have a lump checked (and is fearing the worst although she doesnt know yet) the advice on this website is fantastic and has reassured me and other collegues we are doing the right thing by carrying on while being sensitive towards her :)

katie foster November 03, 2010 | 3:10 PM

Breast cancer is a sad thing millions of people die by it each for every body who think that is a game it is not!! :)

Michelle October 23, 2010 | 1:29 PM

Just found out my mother in law has breast cancer. I've never dealt with this. I found your advice and tips very helpful!

Malyssa October 16, 2009 | 1:10 PM

love how these tips actually mean something that is so grateful and would help other in life...many people are dying of cancer i want to help prevent cancer and i will keep trying to help those who are fighting i would never give up on my loves ones... but i would like to say i wont be a failure for you...i miss Monica but you knowing I'm trying my best so people could understand that cancer is a big problem and i want people to get involved in fighting for those who have it they need our love

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