Supporting Someone with Late-Stage Breast Cancer
It's estimated that 236,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. These women are mothers, sisters, friends, and daughters - and they need support. But figuring out how to show that support can be difficult.
What's the best way to help someone through a breast cancer battle? Worse yet, what if the prognosis doesn't look good - what then?
Knowing what to say and how to comfort someone suffering from cancer is challenging. When it comes to stage 4 breast cancer, things only get more complicated. Metastatic breast cancer is often fatal, and some people may feel hopeless about their situation. Up to 10% of all new breast cancer cases are stage 4, which means that the cancer is in its advanced stages. One cancer has spread throughout the body, it's incredibly difficult to treat successfully.
There is always still hope, even with stage 4 breast cancer
What can you do to help your loved one who has stage 4 breast cancer? The first thing is to wrap your head around the fact that a stage 4 diagnosis isn't always hopeless. A recent study from the National Cancer Institute has found that there are now more women living with metastatic breast cancer than there ever was before. This doesn't mean that more women are getting this awful disease, but rather more women are surviving it thanks to better treatments available today.
Treatments are better, but that doesn't mean that they're easy
Though we have better treatments, the treatments themselves aren't always easy. Many people don't realize how treatment for breast cancer simply doesn't end. Women get a common question: "How many rounds left?", when in reality, there isn't going to be a "last round". Women who have stage four breast cancer will be taking medication for their whole life. Once one drug stops working, it's on to the next.
Women with late-stage cancer are going to need frequent doctor visits
Women who have metastatic breast cancer will always be going back to the doctor. They will need monitoring for life. That means frequent appointments for scans to make sure cancer hasn't spread anywhere else in their body.
Don't tell your loved one to "beat their cancer", because even the strongest women sometimes don't make it
It's really common for people to encourage breast cancer patients to "beat" their cancers. What they don't realize is that for advanced breast cancers, there isn't really such a thing. Women with late-stage breast cancer might not be able to totally eradicate their tumor, and encouraging them to "beat" their illness can actually stress them out or burden them further. Their fate really isn't in their control, and if they fall to their disease, it isn't because they didn't fight hard enough.
Late-stage cancer is often fatal, but it's important not to focus too much attention on death. Even though it is devastating to get a grim prognosis, sometimes as short as months, people suffering from breast cancer benefit from trying to stay as positive as they can. Despite having an incurable disease, it's not helpful to waste any precious time thinking about death constantly.
Read on to learn how to comfort someone with late-stage breast cancer.