4 Ways to Help Family Members Diagnosed with Breast Cancer


Breast Cancer is a reality for many women in South Africa. In face, it's estimated that 1 in 27 women will experience breast cancer in the lifetime.

I have seen how a breast cancer diagnosis can have a major influence on the whole family.  The emotions that occur within a family can range from sadness to anger, frustration to denial about what has happened to them.

Often women who have to deal with breast cancer fall into financial difficulties because of expensive medical bills. Many well-meaning family members have found themselves sucked into the financial abyss by the problems of a loved one only to get burned out themselves.

In a survey published on the Journal of Clinical Oncology,  many family members and caregivers of cancer patients often need to alter their employment status to help care for patients, causing a decline in income or, potentially, a loss of insurance coverage. According to the survey, nearly one-third of patients or families missed paying bills such as rent, utilities and phone in order to prioritise and pay for cancer-related expenses.

Feeling helpless when someone you care for is ill is a natural feeling, but there are many things that you can do to help the family through this difficult financial and health period.


READ ALSO: Breast Cancer: How to manage your finances

I recommend families try to:

Communicate all the time about money. Holding a family meeting with a facilitator might help the family come together rather than be torn apart by these issues. Sorting through money matters now can make all the difference. It’s a time when communication and talking honestly is important. How well the family adjusts can affect how well the person being treated for breast cancer copes.

Involve appropriate family members in the discussion. Talking about a loved one's incapacity and inability to manage their finances independently is a conversation no family enjoys. The person might not want to give up money matters. But in the event of a crisis, it’s crucial to have a plan devised to handle the onslaught of financial decisions.

Make sure personal and financial documents are in order. Concern over a sick loved one's financial well-being is front and center for many all in the family. These are some of the financial matters to consider:

  • Investment, bank and insurance accounts
  • Social Security numbers
  • Debts and payments
  • Tax returns
  • Savings and investment records and lock boxes
  • Contact information for doctors, insurance agents, accountants, etc.

Plan for an emergency. Before crisis mode hits you, sit down as a family and settle on some key answers that will give everyone involved some peace of mind.

With good intentions and a willingness to listen carefully, your family can work through this challenging topic one issue at a time. And when the hard work is done, your family will act and react more effectively.

If you want to support women who have breast cancer remember to register for the iThemba Walkathon Breast Cancer Awareness event.  Entries are now open for you to buy your tickets online

Here are the details
Date and Venu: Sunday, 20 October 2019
Venue: Marks Park in Johannesburg
Ticket Price: R175 - until 12 October for adults/ R115 for children
Social media: Facebook and Twitter

Entries online opened unitl 12 OCTOBER. Entries at venue opened 15 – 19 OCTOBER 2019. 10:00 to 19:00. No ticket sales on the day of the event. 

 To date Avon Justine has raised in excess of R20 Million through the sale of special “pink ribbon” products for breast cancer education, awareness and screening in South Africa.

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