What to Say to Someone with a New Breast Cancer Diagnosis

two friends chatting together

According to NationalBreastCancer.org, 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Unfortunately, this means that, over your lifetime, there’s a good chance that you’ll know a friend or family member who has breast cancer.

Sadly, if you receive this type of news, it can be difficult to find the right words to say to bring comfort to the one you love.

For that reason, we want to suggest 5 kind and compassionate things to say to someone who has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

It is our hope that you can use these suggestions to find positive, encouraging words that will uplift the women in your life who are fighting this courageous battle.

Keep reading to discover what we recommend…

Idea #1 – “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.”

It’s 100% okay to not know what to say to someone with a new breast cancer diagnosis.

In fact, sometimes, it’s better not to say anything at all and let your loved one do the talking.

The simple line “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you” is a great way to let your friend or family member know that you’re at a loss for words.

Most important, this line can prevent you from saying something you can’t promise, like the phrase “Everything will be okay” that many people say out of habit.

The most important part of this sentence is the ending…“I’m here for you.”

It’s a great reminder to your friend or family member that, while you might not know what to say in the moment, you’ll always be there to provide support.

Idea #2 – “I’m here to listen.”

two women looking at the mountains

Actions often speak louder than words.

For this reason, we suggest letting your loved one know “I’m here to listen.”

This line gives your friend or family member the time to express her own thoughts, concerns, or worries before you speak.

It’s important to understand that your loved one will need time to process her thoughts and talking out loud can help her do just that.

After your loved one has had a chance to talk, you can then express what you feel is appropriate to say based on what has been told to you.

If you’re struggling to find the right words to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s just as valuable to lend your friend or family member a pair of supportive, listening ears.

Idea #3 – “Can I help you with X?”

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s easy for her to become overwhelmed.

It’s likely that she will be left wondering how she will keep up with daily life while also fighting the battle of her life.

This is why our third recommendation is to simply ask your friend or family member, “Can I help you with X?”

Instead of talking about the diagnosis, simply ask how you can help. Doing this will remind the person you care about that she has people in her life that are going to help her keep moving forward.

We recommend that, when you ask how you can help, you are specific in your request.

For instance, you might ask, “Can I drive you to your doctor’s appointments?” or “Can I walk your dog twice a week?”

People are more likely to accept help when you are specific about what you’re offering to do.

Idea #4 – “What else is new?”

2 friends on a coffee date

Sometimes, talking about a breast cancer diagnosis isn’t helpful–especially if a person has a lot of other people asking her questions and wanting information.

Instead, your loved one might want to take her mind off the situation and talk about other things like a hobby or vacation.

If you can tell that your family member or friend is having a hard time talking about the diagnosis, change the topic and see if that helps.

Ask anything from “What are your kids up to?” to “How did you enjoy that movie you went to see the other day?”

A lighthearted conversation on a topic other than cancer might be the best thing you can do to offer a little peace in the midst of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Idea #5 – “Where or how can I learn more about what you’re going through?”

We all know that getting diagnosed with breast cancer is a difficult, life-changing experience. However, unless you’ve been diagnosed yourself, you’ll never be able to put yourself in the shoes of the person you care about.

That being said, it is possible to educate yourself to get a better understanding of what your loved one is going through.

That’s why we recommend that you ask your friend or family member, “Where or how can I learn more about what you’re going through?”

Having this knowledge up front will equip you with the tools you need to ask the right questions and provide the best support for the one you love.

This knowledge will also help you become more empathetic toward your loved one who is on this challenging journey.

Do you have any recommendations for what to say to someone with a new breast cancer diagnosis? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

3 Ways to Support a Friend with a New Breast Cancer Diagnosis

In the past, we’ve talked about how you can help someone who is in the midst of battling breast cancer.

It’s amazing how simple things like cooking a meal or sending a card can really make a difference in the life of someone who is undergoing treatment.

In this article, however, we thought it would be nice to give some advice on how to be a friend when someone is newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

After all, while a battle with breast cancer is certainly challenging, the initial shock of being diagnosed is downright difficult.

Many times, we are quick to jump in and say, “Everything’s going to be fine” out of the kindness of our hearts. But, that’s not necessarily true or helpful.

Keep reading to discover 3 powerful ways you can help someone who is coping with a new cancer diagnosis.

Be a Good Listener

Humans are verbal creatures, so sometimes it’s our natural instinct to start blurting things out like “You’ll beat this,” “You’re tougher than cancer,” or “Everything will be fine.”

But, in the midst of a new diagnosis, these words are very cliché and unhelpful.

No one knows what the future holds, and your friend has just started the battle of a lifetime. Now is the time to sit quietly and listen.

Take in what your friend has to say and only chime in when appropriate.

Don’t push for details on what type of cancer she’s been diagnosed with or how bad the diagnosis is. Your friend or family member will reveal that information if she wants to in her own time.

It’s possible that your loved one won’t want to talk about her diagnosis at all. Perhaps, she needs some time to get her mind off the matter and focus on other things.

Let your friend or family member direct the conversation.

Make Yourself Available

Processing a cancer diagnosis is mentally draining.

And, as treatments begin, a battle with cancer becomes physically draining as well.

This is why making yourself available to a friend who has been newly diagnosed is so valuable.

A friend or family member might need you to sit and talk with her as she processes her diagnosis.

Or she might just need you to watch her kids, walk her dog, etc., so she can get in a nap when she is feeling drained and exhausted.

Making yourself available to jump in and help whenever and wherever help is needed is one of the best gifts you can give someone.

It’s possible that your loved one will be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. For this reason, be sure to extend the invitation to help so she doesn’t have to ask for it.

If your loved one declines the help, make it a point to let her know that you’ll always be there for her as time goes on in case she needs an extra hand later.

Be a True Friend

Being a true friend means being honest, open, giving, and readily available when needed.

It also means not gossiping about your friend’s recent diagnosis or sharing things that shouldn’t be shared.

We understand that it can be hard to not discuss your friend’s personal matters with others who are close to you. After all, it’s likely that you’ll need time to process a friend or family member’s cancer diagnosis, too.

But, it’s important to remember that your loved one who has been diagnosed is sharing difficult and often deeply personal information with you–information that she might not want shared publicly.

Always ask permission before you share information.

For example, you might be a part of a religious group that wants to pray for the friend or family member who has been diagnosed.

This is a lovely thing to do. But, before you tell your entire prayer circle about your loved one’s diagnosis, make sure it’s ok to share.

Your loved one who is battling cancer needs someone who she can confide in and depend on.

Be a true friend.

How have you supported a friend or family member who was diagnosed with cancer? Let us know in the comments below!

In Her Words: Beverly Vote, Publisher of Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine

Our staff at the Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction warmly welcomes this exclusive interview with Beverly Vote, publisher of Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine

The mag­a­zine is a quar­terly, full color printed pub­li­ca­tion that goes directly to thou­sands of breast can­cer patients and sur­vivors in all 50 states as well as to sev­eral thou­sand mas­tec­tomy cen­ters, breast can­cer sup­port groups, and breast can­cer cen­ters and events. In addi­tion, the mag­a­zine is avail­able online. The mag­a­zine was the 2007 recip­i­ent of the Don Ranly Pub­lish­ers Award for Best Issue in its cat­e­gory and a con­tender for Best Arti­cle for the arti­cle “Ser­vice, Strength, and Survival.”

Tell us a little bit about your own story. How was Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine created?

I will never forget the feelings I had in 1992 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38.  I felt very alone and very afraid.  It wasn’t just my health that I was concerned about, but I was deeply worried how it was affecting my family.  Three perfect strangers reached out to me in my darkest hours and provided hope and inspiration at a time when my medical doctors had little to offer.  

The magazine was created because I learned first hand from these three women how important it is to share hope and inspiration with one another.  Twenty one years later, I continue to see the importance in sharing our healing stories. The Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine includes both valuable information from leading experts in the field of integrative medicine but also personal stories from breast cancer thrivers.

Have you noticed certain themes for articles lately? What are the big focus topics today for the magazine?

Themes in blogs and other articles seem to be more centered around empowering our mind, our body and our spirit.  The focus for the Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine continues to include this, as it has since its inception, but the magazine now also campaigns to change self-communication from, “I am a survivor,” to “I am a thriver!”  There is a thriving force in all of us that wants to be experienced, to live life with more passion and joy, and if not after a diagnosis of breast cancer, when?  


There is big buzz around the Thrivers Cruise. What is it and why is this cruise different? What can passengers expect? 

The annual Thrivers Cruise is a fun and celebratory event that brings women together from across the United States.  Every year we have a “Far Out Thriver” contest for the person traveling the farthest to attend the cruise.  For the past two years, the winner has been from Liverpool England, but we have also had women travel from Canada, Belgium, Ireland, Grand Cayman Islands, and Afghanistan. Over 55% are repeat cruisers with many women traveling with us for five consecutive years.  We also have a Pink Celebration Party every year on the cruise, and recognize the Largest Group traveling together, the Best Karaoke, Prettiest Pink T-Shirt contest, and the Funkiest Flip Flop contest.  We recently added the Encourager Award and the Thriving Caregiver award. What is great about the Thrivers Cruise is that it offers the opportunity to do things with new found friends as well as time for personal recreation or with others. For the repeat cruisers, we love seeing friends that we have made from our previous trips.

Every year, we offer a Breast Cancer Thrivers Cruise giveway.  It’s very easy to register to win! The simple qualifications to win are on the website www.BreastCancerWellness.org. It is a random drawing and includes an inside cabin for the winning recipient and the guest of her/his choice. 

Our travel agent for our 8th Annual Breast Cancer Thrivers Cruise 2014 is Connie Saunders, owner of Your Cruise Agents. Connie and her Crew were selected as our travel agency because Connie has a real need to be of service for this annual event…. both her mother and her best friend were diagnosed with breast cancer. Connie knows the power that fellowship and fun provides!

Connie has created an easy monthly payment plan for our group.

What is the one thing you want all women to know about breast cancer?

The most important message that I personally want to convey to anyone facing breast cancer is that we are not powerless over breast cancer and we don’t have to face breast cancer alone. One of the greatest allies we have in this healing journey is the Pink Sisterhood. Connecting with someone who understands what we are going through is life-changing. The Pink Sisterhood is one of the most dynamic forces on earth and is an important resource no matter what age or stage of the journey that we are on.

What is next for the Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine? How is the magazine spreading outside of its pages?

The Breast Cancer Wellness Ambassadors’ program is soon to launch.  This program includes an introduction to the wholistic healing principles specific for breast cancer and tools to help empower our body, mind and spirit after a diagnosis of breast cancer.  Advanced training for the BCW Transformational Leaders and Speakers will also be offered. 

Find out more about Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine and subscribe at: www.BreastCancerWellness.org

How to Tell the People In Your Life About Your Diagnosis

When it comes to telling others about a breast cancer diagnosis, there are numerous reasons patients have difficulty putting to words what they’ve learned. Saying it aloud means it’s real—but it also begins the process of coping.

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we know how tumultuous telling loved ones about a diagnosis can be. Here are some ways you can ease into sharing the information with your family and friends.

Take your time. Though it’s important to share this information with the people closest to you, know that you can tell them when the time feels right for you. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t have to tell everyone. Prioritize the people you need to tell first. You can tell them to share the news with others by phone or e-mail, or you can do it yourself.

Tell your children. The sooner you inform your kids that you have breast cancer, the better. Be direct and make sure to use the word: “Mom has cancer.” They need to hear it from you—your explanation will be far less scary than what they will imagine is happening. If they have questions, simply answer them and move on.

Tell your parents. As with your children, the sooner your parents know you have breast cancer, the quicker they can adapt to the situation. Speaking up may not be easy. After all, no one wants to cause their parents pain and anguish, especially if they are elderly. But if you do plan on telling your parents, you can enlist the support of a sibling or close family friend to help you break the news.

Need more encouragement? Find out how other women dealt with their breast cancer diagnoses