Get a Regular
Whether you are sharing your own breast cancer diagnosis, supporting a loved one, have lost a loved one or you’ve noticed a change and are speaking to your doctor for the first time – we know it’s not always easy to find the words to say.
In times of sadness and anxiety it can be tempting to retreat but reaching out to loved ones and getting it off your chest can help you to feel less alone.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with The Self Space this Breast Cancer Awareness Month to bring you some advice on how to have some difficult but important conversations.
First up, none of us find difficult conversations easy. We stumble and stutter, tripping over our words out of fear of saying the wrong thing. This is human. What matters is our intention. Listen with a yearning to understand, softening the urge to respond and to fix. Check in and ask, do you need me to sit and hold space with you right now? Or do you need me to be practical and helpful? Most of the time people just need us to listen. Know that someone’s cancer diagnosis isn’t always an opportunity for them to become a hero or an inspiration to others, sometimes it is something in their life they just need to get through or try and survive.
Make sure you’re in an environment that feels safe, take breathing breaks as often as you need to and try to hold how you’re feeling in mind. You could even write out what you’d like to say beforehand if you’re worried you won’t be able to find the words. We have the tendency to put others’ safety masks on before our own, especially when we’re going through something difficult. But on these occasions when your loved ones are gathered round, really lean into the support that they are there to provide.
It’s common to hold a lot of fear around loss because it reminds us of our own mortality. We sometimes bring this fear with us when people we love are going through something difficult. We can fall into two camps: we either avoid reaching out to them, or we come in all guns blazing ready to fix, mend and fuel. Sadness doesn’t need to be treated with the urgency of a shark attack, and it also doesn’t need to be handled with kid gloves. Be gentle but be proactive, ask: How do you wish people would act around you right now? Affirm and recognise how very sh*t the situation is, validate it with mindful compassion.
The first instinct might be to panic but keep in mind that 9 out of 10 people who are referred to the breast clinic are not given a cancer diagnosis. It can feel embarrassing to talk to your doctor about your breasts, but they have seen it all before! If you would prefer to be seen by a doctor of a specific gender, you can request this when you book the appointment. If going to the doctors on your own feels scary, ask a friend or family member to accompany you. It may also help to bring notes about your symptoms with you to your appointment to refer back to if you feel overwhelmed at any point.
If you’re looking for more information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, our Self-Checkout tool is there to guide you through all you need to know about checking your chest. Click below to get started.
Get a Regular
Knowing your boobs could save your life, so sign up for one of our regular reminders to check your boobs.