Caring for someone close to you who has been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (mBC) can be challenging. Below are answers to some questions that you may be asking yourself.
Talk to the health care team.
They can help inform you about any practical assistance you can provide, but it is just as crucial to give emotional support. mBC affects family and friends as well as the patient, so it's important to take care of yourself so that both you and your loved one can remain as strong as possible during this time.
Take care of yourself
When you are caring for someone with mBC, sometimes the best help you can give is taking care of yourself. By making sure you leave time for your own mental and physical well-being, you will also ensure that you have the energy to provide support for your loved one when it is needed most.
Caring for someone with mBC involves many tasks—setting up doctor’s appointments, cooking healthy meals, filling out paperwork, etc. It can all be very demanding, so it is important to prioritize your tasks and know your limits. By making a list and sharing responsibilities, you can better organize your day while still leaving room for much needed personal time.
Find productive ways to cope
The emotional toll of mBC can affect even the strongest family members and friends. These feelings are normal to have, and everyone has different ways of coping with them. Try expressing your feelings to others, or put your energy into other things that matter to you.
Reach out to others
Sometimes you may feel like you have to do everything yourself, but there is no shame in asking for help. Whether you need a hand with household chores or driving your loved one to the doctor, or you simply need someone to talk to, there are people who can help. Reaching out to family and friends, support groups for caregivers, or even the health care team can lift a tremendous weight off your shoulders—and ultimately help you to take better care of your loved one.
Whether your loved one is newly diagnosed with mBC or has been fighting the disease for some time, going to the doctor can be difficult. Being there for your loved one during this time can be a great help, both practically and emotionally. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for a visit.
Ensure that your loved one is calm and comfortable
As you might have experienced, waiting for the doctor can often take longer than expected. You can help by bringing along items that may take your loved one’s mind off of these stresses, and by making sure they are physically comfortable while waiting for their appointment.
At times, you and your loved one may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you are receiving. One good idea is to take notes on a notepad or electronically to review with your loved one at a later time—perhaps in a more comfortable setting at home.
It's important to always stay informed about your loved one's health and to take an active role in observing their treatment progress. Remember to always ask the health care team questions if something is unclear or you want to know more information, and be sure to find out how to contact them with additional questions you may have later.
There are many helpful resources online that provide comprehensive information for you and your loved one who is fighting mBC.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has worked for over 100 years to create a world with less cancer. ACS focuses on helping patients to stay well and get well, to fight back, and to find cures.
Help for Cancer Caregivers, by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), is a collaboration of organizations with the goal of improving the health and well-being of the people who care for patients with cancer.
MyLifeLine.org connects cancer patients and caregivers to their community of family and friends for social and emotional support, through free, personal and private Web sites.
You can also speak with your loved one's health care providers to find local community support groups that may be able to help, or find a list of patient support groups that you may want to share with your loved one on the Community groups page.
HALAVEN is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, and who have already received other types of anticancer medicines after the cancer has spread.
HALAVEN can cause serious side effects, including
Before you receive HALAVEN, tell your health care provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you
Tell your health care provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
What are the possible side effects of HALAVEN?
HALAVEN can cause changes in your heartbeat (called QT prolongation). This can cause irregular heartbeats. Your health care provider may do heart monitoring (electrocardiogram or ECG) or blood tests during your treatment with HALAVEN to check for heart problems.
The most common side effects of HALAVEN in adults with breast cancer include low white blood cell count (neutropenia), low red blood cell count (anemia), weakness or tiredness, hair loss (alopecia), nausea, and constipation.
Your health care provider will do blood tests before and during treatment while you are taking HALAVEN.
For more information about HALAVEN, please see full Prescribing Information.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.