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Asking is Opportunity's Voice

It takes practice, but you'd be surprised how many people want to help you. Just ask.

Asking is Opportunities' Voice

How to Ask For the Help You Need

Feeling overwhelmed after a diagnosis of breast cancer can contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression, all part of a normal response. What is not normal is asking for help, especially if you are a self-reliant, independent woman. If you are the one everyone always counts on for help, this extremely difficult time can be a humbling experience.

Asking for help is not an easy task for most people, whether you are someone who is healthy and the ‘picture of fit’ or someone who is dealing with breast cancer. Some people are taught early on that asking for help is a sign of weakness, while others believe it is the desire to be independent that keeps us from asking for what we need and want. Much too often, pride is the culprit.

Learning to ask for help

We are taught as young children that we should share our toys and not be greedy, treat others the way you want to be treated, but we're rarely taught that it's OK to ask for help. As adults we learn to do everything for ourselves. We shouldn’t need the help of others because we have grown up, we think. Often, we even reject help when it's freely offered! But after a life-changing event such as being diagnosed with breast cancer, you must get past the self-reliance, guilt, and shame and learn to rely on others. 

Still want to do some research yourself? Here's a quick list of breast cancer terminology and definitions

Even if this is the first time you have ever asked for help, it will save you time and energy to reach out to family and friends. Most already want to help, but may not know what they can do. Helping you can also help them deal with their own stress regarding your diagnosis. Finding ways to be constructive and helpful will allow them to redirect their energy in a positive way and can possibly help their emotional need to be there for you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Think of it as giving someone an opportunity to do something for someone. Christine Clifford writes in her book, Cancer Has Its Privileges, Stories of Hope and Laughter, “Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. The love and support that people want to give you when you are diagnosed with cancer can absolutely get you through this experience on a day-to-day basis.”

Let Someone Help with Organization

Feeling in control may or may not be a priority for you at this time. If you don’t have the energy to be organized, ask a family member to take on this responsibility for you. Things like making activity lists can prove to be useful and cut down on your stress. Assign an individual to each task and clearly state what needs to be done. Changes in routines and responsibilities can be difficult at first for some family members, so don’t try to anticipate what you will need to have done over the next couple of months. Instead, concentrate on the next few days or the following week.

Ways of Helping You During Breast Cancer Treatment

Here are some practical things that friends and family members can do to help out. Just ask!

Physical Support:

  • House cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Cooking meals
  • Grocery shopping
  • Babysitting
  • Taking care of pets
  • Transportation to doctor’s appointments and treatments
  • Yard work
  • Research medical treatments, clinical trials and counseling
  • Help compile questions for doctors and/or nurses

Emotional Support:

  • Send a card
  • Be there during your treatment
  • Give a compliment
  • Provide emotional space
  • Practice good listening skills
  • Find a breast cancer support group
  • Distract by entertaining
  • Recommend a good book
  • Get together for no reason at all

Taking Care of Yourself

Once you have the courage to ask for help, it is important to take time for yourself. Having a good support system allows you to have the time to heal physically and emotionally and reflect spiritually. Make sure and get plenty of rest.

Take time to think and reflect on your life. Share this list with your friends. Be grateful for small kindnesses. And feel empowered.