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Friday October 18, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday October 18, 2013 MYT 7:37:01 AM
by s. indramalar
LIVING with advanced breast cancer (ABC) can present many challenges both for the patient as well as their caregivers. There are many ways to support a woman with ABC but the key, says Dr Saunthari Somasumdaram, is to put yourself in the position of the patient.
“We have a tendency to talk. We want to say all the right things and make the patient feel better. But it’s important to put ourselves in the patient’s shoes. Most likely, she hasn’t come to you expecting you to be the expert or because you have more knowledge about the disease.
“She has come to you because she feels comfortable enough with you to be able to talk. Ask her what she needs. Don’t guess. What can you do? Sometimes you can’t make her feel better. She has to ride the moment and all you have to do is be there,” says Dr Saunthari.
Often, she adds, it is the practical things that will be of greatest help.
“Even after being diagnosed with ABC, most women’s priorities will lie with their work and their family and home. You can’t help with her work but maybe you can help out with her errands or cooking meals for the family at times when she is unwell. She may need transport to and from treatment or even company while she is getting chemotherapy. She may not be able to pick her children up from school or do the grocery shopping. ”
While peer support is helpful, Dr Saunthari also cautions cancer survivors from assuming that they know what a fellow patient is going through.
“A lot of people who have cancer think they know about cancer but they don’t. They know about their cancer. It is a very individual experience so it is important to know what the boundaries are when it comes to peer counseling. One person’s journey may not be the same an the next. In the hour of need, people grab on to anything and everything and this can lead to false expectations so it is important to be mindful that peers cannot project their experience on another patient, “ she says.
Surviving breast cancer
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Lifestyle, Women, Advanced Breast Cancer, Cancer
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