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Impact of Emotional Support on Breast Cancer Patients By Hima Mammen


In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Licensed Psychologist at HRIC Dubai Hima Mammen will shed light on how important emotional support from friends and family is to breast cancer patients to help them in their recovery or their fight against the disease. 

Hearing that a loved one has cancer can be a very difficult and trying time. You may try to rationalize it to understand the reasons why this is happening and who is at fault. This happens mainly if you’re the primary caregiver because you’ll be at the receiving end of a lot of questions, a lot of tears, a lot of anger, and irritability from those loved ones themselves. At some point, you might feel helpless. But your presence even if silent is very valuable and important in the recovery of the loved one with cancer.

Before you step in to help a loved one, you need to step back and reevaluate your notions about breast cancer and cancer care, working through your initial response to the news. It is also important to acknowledge the changes that may come into this person’s life as cancer brings about a lot of changes. Although your comfort comes from a good place, it is important not to overwhelm the person with too much information and resources about cancer. It is also helpful to get in touch with another caregiver who has been through this same situation and might be able to give you a better perspective. 

Words can be very powerful. It is important to express your love and kindness to your loved one with cancer while giving them the space to express their thoughts. Many times people don’t know how to respond or what to say to such a situation. It is important to ask open-ended questions and allow them to elaborate. This gives you a clue on what to say and how to follow up while allowing them to feel heard. It is important to keep in mind not to rush into solving their problems or belittling their concerns. 

Cancer today has a multi-modality treatment approach and the effects of each of these treatments are valued on the body. Body acceptance is a huge part of the cancer care journey, though a person may feel that they don’t have control over what’s happening around them, especially to their bodies. The narrative of how they see themselves can be influenced when there are treatment options like double mastectomy; it gets in the way of their sexual identity. At this point, it is very important for their friends and family to form a network and challenge the stigma around body acceptance and body image when it comes to cancer. It is important to show the person how large they are and how the person hasn’t changed or the relationship hasn’t changed, that they are valuable in the relationship still. Staying socially connected and having hope has a huge impact on a person’s mental well-being. It also affects the way they respond to treatments. 

Many times, cancer patients have mentioned that they were on one side of the curtain while the whole world was on the other side. These feelings of isolation are very strong to battle when it comes to cancer care. Hope has a wonderful power to heal. Connecting your family member or your loved one with other cancer survivors will give them a different perspective on what the future would be. Getting your loved one to connect and share in that experience is another form of relief. Something as simple as having a walk with them in the morning in the park or playing music in the rainforest can give them relief.

Many times cancer patients want to reach out to their loved ones but they don’t find the energy to do so. In such situations, it is very important for friends and family to form that network and to allow them to get socially engaged by picking up the phone and responding to those texts, to make plans that can allow them to socially engage with others such as movie nights or game nights where people can be involved in social conversations and have a break from their usual settings.

Consistency and support are also very important aspects. Many times cancer patients feel overwhelming support from dozens of people in the beginning when they are first diagnosed, but as life goes on, the presence of people begins to break up. It’s important that they feel supported throughout their cancer care journey. Helping your loved ones find their place of safety and support is important. A kind of balance between feeling helpless and being forced to sort of positivity, the kind of survivors philosophy where they are allowed to feel scared but know that they are not alone. They know that these days are going to be hard but they can face them, and this too shall pass.

Caregivers should also pay attention to their own mental well-being. Asking somebody to step in your place while you care for yourself is also important. Cancer has the potential of bringing friends and family together. It is not how perfect of support you are but rather your presence that matters. The key is to be empathetic and kind, to be open to what your loved one is telling, and to take cues from that.

On the same note and as informed, wWe, Mint Basil Market, have partnered up with Inspire Yoga and will be hosting an event on October 30th with a panel discussion featuring several health experts, including Hima Mammen. We would be honored to have you with us as a guest speaker. Kindly check your calendar and please confirm attendance the soonest - dDetails of the event are as follows:

- LOCATION: Gate Avenue DIFC 

- DATE: 30 OCT

- TIME: 5.30 pm to 7:15 pm

- AGENDA: Panel talk followed by a 5 Rhythms Dance Movement Class

- THEME: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We’d love to see you there!


October 11, 2021 — Mint Basil Team

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