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What is the best advice to give someone regarding her upcoming surgery for breast(calcium deposits) cancer?

By Anonymous June 28, 2009 - 2:44pm
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A neighbor of mine has a kind of breast cancer related to calcium deposits in both breasts;
and surgery is on her agenda in 14 days. I have a cd for relaxation and visualizing a successful outcome.

I wonder, what else can I suggest or offer?
Focused web-based suggestions would also be most welcomed.
Any advice for her husband who could use "propping-up" about now.

Thank you,
c j

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You sound like a wonderful neighbor and friend!

I hope you hear from other women regarding suggestions of what you can offer, but I do have a few ideas for what could be helpful to your neighbor, especially related to your close proximity. I am not sure what exact type of surgery she is having, or any of her other life circumstances (is she living with a partner, does she have young children, does she work full-time, etc), but here are some general ideas that are helpful for a woman is who going through surgery, and needs help, love, support, and to know that her daily life is being taken care of.

I believe the number one thing you can do for her: ask her what she needs/wants. People are different when it comes to physically and emotionally preparing for surgery, and coping with the results afterwards. You have a special role in her life as her neighbor, and knowing how she wants you to play this role is important. She may need a shoulder to cry on, another female confidant, a person to run errands for her, a person to make sure her/her family has a meal each night. She may need someone to do the mundane laundry or taking out trash, or she may just need a friend to watch a favorite TV show with (and talk about afterwards!). Her caregivers may appreciate some of their household load being taken off their shoulders, so they can spend more time with her (and not be as physically exhausted).

Assuming your neighbor is well-educated on the surgical procedures, expected outcomes and how to manage pain, I am not sure what other "web-based" suggestions you are seeking?

Some simple suggestions:
1. Care basket for her return home, complete with her favorite books, movies, crossword puzzles, a TV season on DVD. Fresh flowers by her bed or other small touches that make her time at home more enjoyable, as she will be exhausted and need to rest.
2. A walking buddy. She may also be told to get some light exercise once further into the recovery process.
3. A personal shopper. Grocery shopping for healthy and nourishing foods, as diet is an important factor in her recovery. Weekly errands (dry cleaner, pick up prescriptions, walk the dog, drive to doctor appointments, etc.).
4. Deliver meals. You could coordinate a neighborhood-wide "Care Calendar" and have neighbors volunteer to make her family a meal, or double-up some of your recipes as you make dinner, and deliver the extra to her family.
5. Hire a housecleaner, lawn service or other maintenance/household service. Her caregivers will be too tired to do any upkeep (think: 6 weeks recovery), and if they are all in the house together, it could get messy (and stressful) quick.
6. Clothing. Does she have plenty of loose fitting clothing that she feels comfortable (and not "sick" or "ill") in? There are specialty bras as well, and you could take her shopping in the next few weeks.

As far as web resources, the American Cancer Society has a list of "alternative and complementary medicine" options, including music therapy, aromatherapy, art therapy, humor therapy, journaling... depending on which type would resonate with her, you can easily create a "Care Package" with these items.

Susan G. Komen site provides wonderful suggestions as well:
- Exercising weekly can help lessen stress and help survivor feel like she is in control of her body again. Again, you could offer to take her on a few walks around the neighborhood when she is ready.
- Social support is important, and some research has suggested that social support is linked with improved the survival rates. This can equate to spending some time with your neighbor, but also knowing when to leave.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables: 5/day. Healthy diet is essential in successful recovery, and you could make sure she has the best produce at her fingertips (washed, cut, sliced, diced...whatever it takes). You can read more about importance of diet here

Are these tips close to what you are looking for? Please let me know if you need anything else, or were hoping to find other types of information.

June 28, 2009 - 7:30pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Alison Beaver)

Hello Allison B,

Thank you so very much for your suggestions which were very helpful to R (my neighbor) and to me.


July 17, 2009 - 8:23pm
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