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According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for someone with stage 4 breast cancer is 28 percent. As cancer progresses through the stages, the chances of survival decrease. By stage 4, when cancer has metastasized to other regions of the body, treatment is aggressive, and the focus on palliative care increases.
If you have a loved one going through stage 4 breast cancer, offering the support and help they need is vital. Read on to learn how to offer the care they require to get through treatment.
Stage 4 Breast Cancer: Stay in Contact
Cancer can be isolating and can increase feelings of depression. People suffering from cancer and dealing with its treatments will look different and not be able to be as active as they were, which can make them fear losing their friends. Reaching out to your loved one will let them know they are not battling the disease alone.
You can send short texts or visit regularly. If you choose to go see them in person, keep the visits short and always call to ask if it is a convenient time. If the person is in palliative care, there will be fewer visiting restrictions as opposed to facility care, but you do not want to show up unannounced.
Offer to bring a snack so you do not impose on the caregiver.
You want to include physical contact, as well, during these visits. Before you leave, offer a hug or some other kind of touch.
Engage Them in Conversation
People are not always sure what to say to someone going through stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. What you say is less important than being there and listening to the person.
Don’t feel you have to respond to everything your loved one says. Many times, a caring listener is what the person needs. Allow them to be negative and let the person stay silent if they do not want to talk.
Try to engage them in topics that make them happy, like sports, hobbies, or pets. Above all, respect their decisions as to how they want to handle the breast cancer stage 4 treatment.
Run Errands and Plan Projects
You can help someone with stage 4 breast cancer by running errands for them. If there are weekly tasks that need to be done, offer to take care of those. Before you do anything, however, always check with your friend to ensure they are okay with you handling those tasks.
You can include your friend in work projects, social events, and other plans. If those commitments are too much for them, they will let you know.
Offer the Support Your Loved One Needs
By knowing what can help someone with stage 4 breast cancer deal with the diagnosis and the treatments, you can offer the kind of support they need. Most of the time, just being there for them is enough.
To learn more about helping people with complex and advanced illnesses, turn to our Medical page!