It’s October, which means social media is saturated with ways to “support” breast cancer awareness, research, and patients. These are the top three ways family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers have best supported me since I was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago:
Being My Village
Empathy goes a long way in our world, and we talk about how it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to be an adult. A person undergoing cancer treatment may need meals to sustain their body, childcare to mind their little ones, transportation to keep medical appointments, and monetary support to pay the bills.
However, what is normally termed “little things” become big things when a person’s daily routine is drastically altered. I personally appreciate the time volunteers spent with me talking, listening, and laughing just as much as I needed their help with daily life tasks. A card that arrived in the mail unexpectedly, a blank journal for channeling my emotions, the soup recipe researched online to keep up my strength, a conversation about something completely unrelated to cancer…all of those moments were an important part of my treatment and care.
Supporting Breast Cancer Charities That Have Supported Me, or Whose Mission I Connect to Personally.
Take my lead when selecting a charity to donate to in my honor. Is there a nonprofit that has impacted me personally, or aided my family? Have you researched where your donation will go?
Think before buying pink-wrapped junk food and ask yourself “Does purchasing this snack food really help my friend?” If what you are about to eat is something that my doctors have told me I now must avoid, is putting something unhealthy in your body really helping anyone? Don’t fall prey to what is now labeled “pink-washing.” Support companies and programs that make an impact and whose affect on research, services, and awareness are documented. Support me by acknowledging my lifestyle.
Recognize the Change
I’m not the same person I was before my diagnosis. Having breast cancer hasn’t sainted me or put me out of touch with daily life. It isn’t some glorious, glamorous journey, and it certainly isn’t easy. My challenges are a part of who I am, just like yours are part of who you are.
But forget the big obstacles for a minute, because I still trip over my own feet, I still launch monologues about topics I’m passionate about, I still laugh too loud and at inappropriate times, and I still stay up too late reading (even when I have a blog post to prepare for the next day.) I probably do those things with more gusto now than before. So, yes, the diagnosis has rocked my world, but it hasn’t changed who I am at my core and how I must navigate the world.
This path I’m on has no stops along the way. There is no complete healing, and I’ve accepted that. Like anything else in our lives, it’s who surrounds us that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other. The best way to support those affected by breast cancer is to not leave them behind.