How To Cope When A Loved One Is Diagnoses with Breast Cancer


In light of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I figured it would be best to take this time to discuss the importance of understanding and finding ways to cope with a loved one being diagnosed with breast cancer. Around 2002, my great-aunt found out she had breast cancer. I was only four years old, so I didn't fully understand what was happening. The most prominent memory I have of this time was my grandmother constantly and consistently making sure I was quiet and well behaved when we went to visit her. When I was around twelve years old, my mom and I were having a conversation, and soon enough, the words slipped out of her mouth, and I found out my aunt was a breast cancer survivor. At that moment in time, I didn’t know how to react. I sat there silently, shocked and trying to imagine life without my aunt. It was impossible to think of something so heartbreaking.

Now, looking back on that moment, I always think “What’s it like for people finding out a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer?”  In this situation, I am extremely lucky for multiple reasons. For one, I was too young to fully understand the concept of cancer and the damage it can cause. Also, I am lucky enough to have such an amazing support system within my family that when I did figure it out, I was not alone. Most importantly, I am blessed to still have my incredible aunt in my life.

It isn’t easy to learn that someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer. In fact, it’s heartbreaking and sometimes people aren’t sure how to deal with the pain of hearing that type of news. The main piece of advice I would like to give to anyone in this situation is to talk about your feelings. No matter how uncomfortable you may feel  putting your emotions into words, you have to try and talk as much as possible. Talking will give you the ability to express your thoughts on the matter and let others help you. Another thing to remember is that you should never be afraid to cry.

There will be times when you’ll feel the need to let out all your emotions and  I say go for it. This is a very emotional time, and it’s healthy to cry when the time calls for it. When going through an experience like this, remember you are not alone. Make sure to keep close relationships with your family and friends during this time; and always. Your family and friends will be your rock, so make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to talk and spend quality time with them. As the typical “mom-friend” that I am, I’m here to tell you that you do not always have to be the strong person. It is okay to admit that you are feeling weak: Even the strongest people have their weakest moments.

During a time like this it will be very strange and it will not always be easy. That is why my next piece of advice is to try to find one thing to make you smile each day. Whether it’s a silly photo or a corny joke, anything will do. Finally, remember to spend as much time as possible with your loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer. For anyone who knows me, they are sure to say that I have a very unique and strong bond with my aunt. I am always grateful for the time I am able to spend with her. So please take the extra time to be with them. You both will appreciate that time together, and remember: one smile a day can do wonders.

I would like to dedicate this article to anyone finding out a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer or any type of cancer for that matter. You are strong and you will get through this. I would also like take a moment to acknowledge my strong, beautiful, and amazing Aunt Gina. Aunt Gina, you are my inspiration. Thank you for teaching me many life lessons and helping me grow. To many more movie nights and late-night ice cream runs. Congratulations on your 15th year in remission, all my love forever and always.