October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the CDC breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the US, with about 255,000 cases diagnosed each year, and about 2,300 cases a year in men.
Here’s our best advice for providing exceptional care to individuals being treated for breast cancer from some of the most experienced ACCESS Nursing private duty nurses:
- Recognize each patient as an individual: It is important to remember that every one of your patients is an individual with specific needs. Listen to their questions and acknowledge their fears. Do not automatically base your care decisions on your experiences with past patients.
- Help them advocate for themselves: Your patient will need your help navigating through physician referrals, appointments, tests, and treatments. They will look to you for assistance with many of these needs.
- Explain in terms they will understand: Remember that your patient is feeling extremely overwhelmed. During appointments with their physicians, they may have millions of things running through their minds and may not hear or comprehend everything that is being said. Be patient when explaining information to them and present it in a way they will understand. Use educational materials as a resource to help them learn about their diagnosis or treatment.
- Help them seek a support group: Support groups can help your patient bond and relate to others who are facing the same challenges. They can feel encouraged and be inspired just by listening to and sharing stories with others.
- Men with breast cancer face a stigma: Men often feel that they lack masculinity after a breast cancer diagnosis. They are less likely to seek support and get involved in support groups. Many male breast cancer patients report feelings of isolation. It is extremely important to remember that male breast cancer patients may react and feel differently than women.
- Celebrate victories: Accomplishments such as completing treatments, improvements in test results, or starting to get their strength back are all reasons to celebrate. Whether big or small, every victory is a step towards building strength and healing.