Understanding Treatment Side Effects: How to Offer Specific Support

Understanding the potential side effects of cancer treatment and knowing how to offer specific support can make a significant difference in the quality of life and health outcomes for young adults. Here’s your guide to navigating through this experience and offering the best support possible.

5 Common Treatment Side Effects and How to Help

Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatment. It can be frustrating, overwhelming, and persistent. Offer practical support like running errands, preparing meals, or helping with household chores. Encourage your loved one to rest and reassure them that it’s okay to take things slow. Let them know you are there to help if they need it and close by if they want to try things on their own first.

Nausea and vomiting are frequent side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments. Be mindful of how strong smells might affect them and have a list of their preferred easy-to-digest foods when nausea hits. Stay flexible with meal plans, even checking in and asking what sounds good before dropping meals off. Ginger or other soothing natural remedies can help alleviate symptoms. Teas, chews, or hard candies are all good options, so be sure you know their favorite flavors.

Hair loss — Although not all cancer treatments result in hair loss, when it does happen, it can be a deeply emotional side effect for many young adults. Be mindful of comments that make them feel self-conscious or dismissive of what they are going through. Show empathy, listen, and tune in to the support that makes the most sense for them. It can be anything from shopping for cool or comfortable hats to researching wig companies, or even joining them when trying on wigs. Remind them that you value who they are and that their beauty and strength go beyond their appearance.

Mouth sores can make eating and drinking very painful. Be aware of favorite foods that offer comfort and relief, as well as foods they may not like. In general, soft, non-spicy foods are better than ones that are acidic or hard to chew. Even drinks can be painful, so find the ones that work best so they stay hydrated.

Cognitive changes, often called “chemo brain,” can affect memory and concentration. Watch for cues that may indicate they are feeling taxed, are having trouble focusing, or need some assistance. Identify solutions that align with their specific needs. Some ideas include helpful memory aids, organizers, calendars, and schedules. If needed, provide gentle reminders for appointments and medications or help them set up notifications or phone reminders. Be patient and understanding as they navigate these changes.

 

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Open and Respectful Communication

Effective communication is key to providing the best support. Always ask before acting and ask your loved one what they need. They might not always want help, so respecting their wishes is crucial. Be a good listener. Sometimes, being there to listen is the best support. Validate their feelings and experiences without trying to fix them.

Offering Practical Help

Practical support can significantly ease the burden of daily life during treatment. Offer rides to and from appointments. Treatments can be exhausting, and your help can be invaluable. Assist with cleaning, laundry, or yard work. These tasks can be overwhelming when someone is dealing with treatment side effects. If applicable, help out with childcare or pet care. This can provide peace of mind to your loved one.

Emotional Support and Encouragement

Emotional well-being is just as important as physical health. Offer encouragement, do things together that preserve normalcy, and keep hope alive. Celebrate small victories along the way. Be patient. Treatment can be a rollercoaster of emotions, so be understanding when emotions flare. And remember to find forgiveness when things get messy.


Self-Care for Caregivers

Supporting someone through cancer treatment can be emotionally taxing. Take care of yourself so you can continue to be a strong supporter. Seek support for yourself and join a support group or talk to a counselor. Sharing your feelings with others in similar situations can be very comforting. Remember, it is okay to set boundaries for yourself to protect your own well-being. Always communicate these boundaries clearly and kindly.

Staying Connected Through Technology

When physical presence isn’t possible, technology can bridge the gap. Video calls regularly can help your loved one feel connected and supported. Use apps like b-there and other tools to organize help among friends and family, track appointments, and send encouraging messages.

Celebrating Small Wins

Acknowledge and celebrate the small victories along the way. Whether it is completing a round of treatment or simply having a good day, these moments deserve recognition and joy.

Supporting a loved one through cancer treatment requires empathy, patience, and a willingness to adapt to their changing needs. By understanding the side effects and offering specific, thoughtful support, you can make a significant positive impact on their experience.

Visit our resources page for more tips on supporting young adults with cancer. Stay connected and empowered to make a difference in the lives of those you care about.

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How to Support a Friend After a Mastectomy: Tangible Ways to Show You Care

Supporting a friend after a mastectomy can make a significant difference in their recovery and emotional well-being. Whether you’re nearby or far away, there are many meaningful ways you can offer your support. Here’s a guide to help you be there for your friend in tangible and impactful ways.

In-Person Support After a Mastectomy

1. Help with Daily Tasks

After such a big surgery, your friend will need time to rest and recover. Offer to help with daily chores such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry. These tasks might seem small, but they can be overwhelming for someone recovering from surgery.

2. Provide Transportation

Driving can be difficult after a mastectomy, especially if your friend is on pain medication. Offer to drive them to and from medical appointments, social gatherings, or even just for a change of scenery.

3. Create a Comfortable Space

Comfort is key during recovery. Help your friend set up a cozy recovery area with pillows, blankets, and easy access to necessities. Consider gifting items like mastectomy pillows (we love Sleep Again Pillows), soft robes, and button-front shirts that are easier to wear post-surgery.

4. Offer Emotional Support

Sometimes, just being there is the best support you can offer. Spend time with your friend, listen to their concerns, and provide a shoulder to lean on. Bring over their favorite movies, books, or board games to help distract them and lift their spirits. 

 

Remote Support After a Mastectomy

1. Send Care Packages

If you can’t be there in person, sending a care package is a wonderful way to show you care. Include items like skincare products, comforting snacks, uplifting books, and handwritten notes.

2. Virtual Check-Ins

Schedule regular video calls to check in on your friend. Virtual hangouts can provide much-needed social interaction and help them feel less isolated. Use apps like Zoom, FaceTime, or even social media platforms to stay connected.

3. Organize a Meal Train

Set up a meal train with friends and family to ensure your friend has home-cooked meals during their recovery. Websites like Meal Train or Take Them a Meal make it easy to coordinate and sign up for meal deliveries.

4. Send Flowers or Cards

Brighten their day with a bouquet of flowers or a thoughtful card. These small gestures can provide a significant morale boost and remind them they are loved and supported.

 

Additional Tips for Supporting a Friend After a Mastectomy

1. Respect Their Boundaries

Recovery is a personal experiene, and everyone handles it differently. Be mindful of your friend’s needs and respect their boundaries. Ask before visiting and be understanding if they need space.

2. Educate Yourself

Learn about mastectomies and the recovery process. Understanding what your friend is going through will help you provide better support and empathy.

3. Offer Long-Term Support

Support doesn’t end after the initial recovery period. Continue to check in on your friend, celebrate milestones, and be there for them as they navigate life after surgery.

 

By offering thoughtful and practical support, you can make a significant impact on your friend’s recovery journey. Remember, the most important thing is to show you care and to be there in whatever way you can. 

 

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Empowerment Unleashed: Be the Supporter Your Loved One with Cancer Needs

When someone you care about is facing cancer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about how best to support them. But guess what? You’ve got the power to make a real, positive impact! At b-present, we’re all about empowering supporters like you to step up with confidence and heart. In this blog, we will take a look at how you can be the supporter your loved one needs.

 

What is Empowerment?

Empowerment means we have the confidence in our abilities and feel in control of our actions and the value they have on impacting outcomes. When we feel empowered, we are more likely to take action, do hard things, and lean into challenges with courage, and with eyes wide open that we may make mistakes, but working through the imperfections is better than the feeling of taking no action at all. We are more likely to feel empowered when we stay authentic, leveraging our own strengths, and understanding when and where we might need some help. 

Our motto: Be Present, Not Perfect.

 

Why Empowerment Matters 

Empowerment gives you the tools, knowledge, and confidence to make a difference. It turns those feelings of helplessness into action, ensuring you’re equipped to handle both the practical and emotional challenges that come with supporting your loved ones with cancer.

 

Tools to Elevate Your Support Game

We’ve created research-based and community reviewed resources that help improve empathy and understanding, strengthen communication, and help adolescents and young adults with cancer and their social support network stay connected throughout treatment and beyond. 

The Supporter Roadmap

A vital tool for anyone wondering how to stay connected and provide meaningful support after a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer.

The b-there App

Designed for busy young adults balancing life and being supportive friends. Survivors can share their status, manage activities, and request needed items. Supporters can check updates and sign up to fulfill wish list items. Staying connected has never been easier!

 

Education for Practical and Emotional Support

Education is key to empowerment. Here’s how you can prepare yourself to be a strong pillar of support.

Understanding Their Needs: Every cancer experience is unique, and understanding your loved one’s specific needs is crucial. Listen actively, ask questions, and be present. Sometimes, the best support is simply being there and showing you care. Other times the best support is giving them space to rest and recharge, because that is what they need.

Effective Communication: The value of strong, empathetic communication cannot be overstated. 

Check out the blog below on how to embrace different communication styles. 

Embracing Different Communication Styles Within Cancer Support Networks

Resource Roundup: Equip yourself with resources that can make a tangible difference. From local support groups to online forums, there’s a wealth of information out there. b-present resources are a great place to start! From helpful guides to heartfelt stories to expert advice, we cover it all. 

    • Explore our video library on YouTube for survivor and supporter stories, as well as tips and tricks for supporting a loved one.
    • Tune into our podcast, The Support Report wth b-present, where we share real stories from young adults and how support impacted their lives.
    • Our blog is packed with articles designed to empower you with knowledge and insight.

 

Tackling Emotional Challenges

Supporting a loved one with cancer can often feel like an emotional rollercoaster. It’s crucial to manage your own well-being while being there for your loved one.

Self-Care is Essential: Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Prioritize your self-care to ensure you’re in the best position to offer support. This could be as simple as a daily walk, meditation, or talking to a friend.

Building a Support Network: It’s okay to ask for support. Connect with other supporters through our community programs. Sharing experiences and advice can provide much-needed emotional relief and practical insights.

Seeking Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed. Therapists, counselors, and support groups can offer valuable guidance and support for both you and your loved one.

 

Advocacy and Making a Difference

Every action, no matter how seemingly small, holds the power to transform someone’s life. There are so many opportunities to continue to have an impact. 

Raise Awareness and Get Involved
Use your voice to raise awareness about AYA cancer by sharing stories, participating in events, volunteering and using social media to spread the word. 

If you are in the Southern California area, we host events such as happy hours, trivia, pickleball, and more! Follow us on social to stay in the loop.

Donate Blood or Be the Match: Many young adult cancer patients rely on blood transfusions as part of their treatment. Consider donating blood to help ensure a steady supply for those in need. Additionally, registering as a bone marrow or stem cell donor could potentially save a life.

 

Let’s transform support into action, one bold step at a time. With b-present by your side, you’re never alone.

 

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Recognizing the Signs: Understanding and Preventing Caregiver Burnout

Caregivers are the unsung heroes, offering unwavering support and care to their loved ones facing cancer. Whether they’re family members, friends, or dedicated professionals, these caregivers play a pivotal role in providing comfort, assistance, and love to those undergoing treatment. However, despite their selfless dedication, caregivers often face a silent adversary: burnout.

Even the most dedicated caregivers are not immune to burnout. It can sneak up on them, gradually wearing them down physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

Here are the top 5 signs to watch out for:

  1. Persistent Exhaustion: Feeling physically and emotionally drained, regardless of adequate rest or sleep.
  2. Increased Irritability: Experiencing heightened levels of frustration, impatience, or mood swings, often due to chronic stress.
  3. Withdrawal from Activities: Losing interest in hobbies, social gatherings, or self-care activities due to overwhelming caregiving responsibilities.
  4. Neglecting Personal Needs: Prioritizing the needs of the patient over one’s own, leading to neglect of self-care routines and personal well-being.
  5. Difficulty Concentrating: Experiencing cognitive difficulties such as forgetfulness, difficulty making decisions, or impaired concentration, which can interfere with caregiving tasks and daily activities.

 

Understanding the signs of burnout is essential, but taking proactive steps to prevent it is equally important.

Here are the top 5 strategies for caregivers to safeguard their well-being:

  1. Self-Care is Essential: Prioritize activities that promote relaxation, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, or spending time outdoors.
  2. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family members, or support groups for emotional support and practical assistance.
  3. Stay Informed: Educate yourself about caregiving resources, services, and support networks. Attend educational workshops, seminars, or online webinars to stay up-to-date on caregiving best practices and coping strategies.
    • At b-present, we improve the quality of life and health outcomes of young adults with cancer through programs that promote and strengthen connections between young adults and their communities of support. Check out our programs for resources for patients, survivors, and caregivers. If you are in the Southern California area, we host events such as happy hours, trivias, pickleball, and more! Follow us on social to stay in the loop.
  4. Set Boundaries: Establish boundaries to protect your time, energy, and emotional well-being. Learn to say no when necessary.
  5. Practice Acceptance: Acknowledge that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Caregivers can set up their own support network using the b-there app.


Cancer caregiver burnout is a real and valid experience, but it doesn’t have to define your caregiving experience. By recognizing the signs, seeking support, and prioritizing self-care, caregivers can protect their well-being and continue to provide the love and support that their cancer patients rely on. 

Remember, you are valued, you are appreciated, and you are not alone. Keep shining bright, your dedication and compassion make a world of difference.

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Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Strategies for Strengthening Connections

Conflicts are an inevitable part of life’s journey. Whether it’s a disagreement with a loved one, a clash with a colleague, or a misunderstanding with a friend, these moments can catch us off guard and challenge our patience and resilience. However, how we navigate these conflicts speaks volumes about our character and our ability to nurture meaningful relationships. 

This blog will serve as your conflict resolution toolbox for handling conflicts like a pro while strengthening connections along the way. We will dive into the importance of active listening, empathy, and compromise—essential tools for patients, survivors, and support networks for young adults with cancer.

 

The Power of Active Listening

One of the most effective tools in resolving conflicts is active listening. Instead of waiting to jump in with our own thoughts, it’s about tuning in to the other person’s perspective, thoughts, and feelings. This shows respect and validation for their experiences, which can defuse tensions and foster better communication. Practice summarizing their points to ensure understanding and show genuine interest in finding a resolution.

Some patients and survivors might struggle to communicate their feelings directly. This is where an app can be helpful in overcoming these challenges without the stress of misunderstandings. The b-there app eases the communication burden by providing a way to clearly express needs or boundaries without it feeling awkward or supporters taking it personally. 

Consider the situation where a supporter offers to stop by, and the patient says no. Unfortunately, this might be taken as the patient doesn’t want to visit with them specifically, when the reality is that the patient is just tired and needs extra rest. The result: unintended stress and hurt feelings. Alternatively, if the “Do not Disturb” status is selected in the b-there app, supporters have clarity on the desire for no visits, and not see it as personally directed. Another example is using the app to convey emotional and health informational boundaries. Sometimes it is hard to say, “I just need you to listen” or “I don’t want to talk about my cancer today.” But sharing these helpful guidelines in the app ensures supporters show up aligned with the patient’s current mood and stick to conversations they are comfortable with. Think of it as b-there tuning you in to the cues you might pick up when practicing active listening.

Cultivating Empathy

Empathy is the cornerstone of effective conflict resolution. Stepping into the other person’s shoes helps us understand their feelings and motivations, fostering compassion and understanding. Rather than just seeing things from our own angle, take a moment to think about where they’re coming from. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share their perspective and show you’re listening. Remember, empathy isn’t about agreeing with them but respecting their feelings all the same.

 

Seeking Compromise

In conflicts, ditching the win-lose mindset is key. Aim for win-win solutions by finding a middle ground and giving a little to meet halfway. Look for areas of agreement and brainstorm solutions that address everyone’s needs. Stay flexible and open to negotiation, focusing on outcomes that benefit both sides. Remember, compromise isn’t about weakness—it’s about maturity and respect for the relationship.

 

Putting It Into Practice

To illustrate these strategies in action, let’s consider some scenarios: 

  • Power of Active Listening: During a coffee meetup, a cancer survivor shares their fears of cancer recurrence with a supportive friend. Instead of jumping in with advice, the friend listens compassionately, allowing the survivor to express their emotions freely. By providing a listening ear, they offer comfort and solidarity in a time of need.
  • Cultivating Empathy: A supporter sends a care package to a cancer patient undergoing treatment. They include a heartfelt note and send gifts that align with their loved one’s current needs, showing empathy and support during a difficult time.
  • Seeking Compromise: Family members plan a day out for a young adult cancer patient. Instead of letting differing opinions lead to conflict, they agree on activities that meet everyone’s interests and abilities. By finding common ground, they avoid potential problems and can instead focus on creating memorable moments together.

 

Conflict resolution isn’t about avoiding disagreements but facing them with grace, empathy, and respect.

By practicing active listening, empathy, and compromise, we strengthen relationships and foster understanding, especially for those affected by cancer. Remember, conflicts are opportunities for growth. Embrace them with openness and humility, and watch as tensions ease and connections strengthen.

 

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Embracing Different Communication Styles Within Cancer Support Networks

The value of strong, empathetic communication cannot be overstated. At b-present, we recognize the pivotal role that effective communication plays not only in everyday interactions but especially within communities supporting young adults facing cancer. In this blog, we’ll discuss understanding diverse communication styles and adapting these insights to strengthen the connections within cancer support networks, ensuring a more nurturing and supportive environment for everyone involved.


Understanding Communication Styles

Communication is the foundation of human connection, shaping our relationships and interactions. There are four primary communication styles:

Assertive: Marked by clarity, respect, and confidence, this style is both direct and considerate of others’ needs.

Aggressive: Often overpowering and disrespectful, this style can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings.

Passive: Characterized by difficulty in expressing needs or opinions, leading to resentment and stress.

Passive-Aggressive: This style veils dissatisfaction through indirect expression, leading to confusion and unresolved issues.

Recognizing and understanding these styles can lead to healthier, more effective interactions, particularly within the sensitive context of a cancer support network.

Each style comes with its attributes and challenges. Here’s how to navigate interactions with each:

  • With Assertive Communicators: Be direct and respect their views while sharing your own. Engage in balanced discussions.
  • With Aggressive Communicators: Maintain calm, set clear boundaries, and avoid confrontations or power struggles.
  • With Passive Communicators: Encourage expression and create a safe space for sharing, ensuring not to exploit their passivity.
  • With Passive-Aggressive Communicators: Address issues directly with clear, assertive communication, avoiding sarcasm, or passive-aggressive responses.

 

Practical Examples Across Communication Styles

1. Assertive Communication in Support Groups:

Example: During a support group session, an assertive communicator might say, “I feel overwhelmed with my current treatment plan and would appreciate discussing experiences with alternative therapies. Does anyone have insights they’re willing to share?”

This approach encourages open, respectful dialogue, making it easier for others to offer support and share their experiences without feeling pressured or judged.

2. Navigating Aggressive Communication in Family Conversations:

Example: In a scenario where a family member communicates aggressively about treatment options, saying, “You must do this; it’s the only right way,” the response could be, “I understand your concern and why you feel strongly about this option. Let’s explore all possibilities together calmly to make the best decision.”

This response aims to de-escalate tension while acknowledging the aggressive communicator’s concerns, promoting a more collaborative and less confrontational atmosphere.

3. Encouraging Passive Communicators to Share:

Example: Recognizing a passive communicator might struggle to express their needs, a facilitator in a support network might gently prompt, “We’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this topic, including any concerns or questions you might have. It’s a safe space here.”

Such encouragement helps passive communicators feel safe and valued, potentially reducing their stress and encouraging more open communication.

4. Addressing Passive-Aggressive Behavior in Peer Support:

Example: If a peer exhibits passive-aggressive behavior, like procrastinating on group tasks or using sarcastic remarks, addressing it directly yet empathetically could involve saying, “I’ve noticed some tension. Can we talk about what’s really bothering you? It’s important to us that everyone feels heard and supported.”

This approach aims to uncover the underlying issues respectfully and assertively, fostering a more honest and supportive communication environment.

 

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The Impact of Understanding and Adapting Communication Styles

By recognizing and adapting to these diverse communication styles, cancer support networks can become more effective in providing the empathy, respect, and support needed by young adults facing cancer. These practical examples highlight the importance of:

  • Empathy: Understanding the emotional state behind each communication style allows for more compassionate interactions.
  • Respect: Valuing each individual’s preferred style of communication fosters mutual respect and minimizes conflicts.
  • Support: Tailoring communication approaches to each style strengthens the overall support network, making it more inclusive and supportive.

 

Joining the Dialogue for Enhanced Support

Embracing the diversity of communication styles is a step toward building stronger, more empathetic support networks for young adults with cancer. As b-present continues to champion programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing these connections, we invite you to join us in this crucial dialogue. Together, we can create a community that thrives on understanding, compassion, and shared strength, transforming the quality of life and health outcomes for those facing cancer. 

Remember that every word, every interaction, and every shared moment in our support networks has the power to heal, uplift, and inspire. Let’s harness the power of effective communication to make every connection count.

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Creating Healthy Boundaries: A Guide for Young Adults with Cancer

Living with cancer as a young adult presents unique challenges, not only in terms of health but also in navigating the complexities of relationships and personal boundaries. At b-present, we understand the importance of establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries for emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. This guide offers practical advice, examples, and language suggestions to empower young adults with cancer in this critical aspect of their lives.


Understanding the Importance of Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are the personal limits we set with other people, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior toward us. For young adults with cancer, setting boundaries is crucial for managing energy levels, emotional health, and the overall quality of life. It’s a way to communicate your needs, limits, and preferences clearly and respectfully, ensuring that your relationships support your well-being.

Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries

Identify Your Boundaries: Reflect on your needs regarding physical, emotional, mental, and social aspects. What makes you comfortable or uncomfortable? Your needs are valid, and recognizing them is the first step toward self-care.

Choose the Right Time and Place: Have these conversations when you and the person involved are calm, and choose a private setting for discussing sensitive matters.

Use Clear and Direct Language: Be specific about your needs. For example, say, “I need to rest by 9 PM, so I can’t have long phone calls in the evening.”

Express Your Feelings and Needs: Use “I” statements to convey your feelings without blaming others. For instance, “I feel overwhelmed with too many visitors and need more quiet time.”

Be Assertive but Respectful: Stand firm on your boundaries while maintaining respect for the other person’s feelings.

Listen and Engage: Be ready to listen to any concerns the other person might have and engage in a constructive dialogue.

Offer Alternatives: When possible, suggest other ways to meet in the middle, such as video calls instead of in-person visits.

Reaffirm Your Boundaries: Don’t hesitate to restate your boundaries if they are overlooked or misunderstood.

Prepare for Pushback: Some people might resist your boundaries. Stay calm and reiterate your needs respectfully.

Practice Self-Care: Recognize that setting boundaries is a form of self-respect. Seek support if you find it challenging to maintain these boundaries.

Examples of Healthy Boundaries

  • Physical Boundaries: “I need rest and might not engage in long outings. I appreciate your invitation, but I must prioritize my health.”
  • Emotional Boundaries: “I’m not comfortable discussing my medical details right now.”
  • Social Boundaries: “I need to limit my social activities for my well-being. Thank you for understanding.”
  • Informational Boundaries: “I prefer to share updates about my health on my terms. Please respect my privacy.”


Using the Ring Theory in Boundary Setting

The Ring Theory is a helpful model for understanding how to support and seek support effectively. Imagine concentric circles with the person with cancer at the center. Each ring represents different levels of closeness (family, close friends, acquaintances).

The rule? Comfort in, dump out. Offer support to those in inner circles and seek support from those in outer circles. When someone from an outer ring offers unsolicited advice or asks invasive questions, gently remind them of your boundaries.

Example: “I appreciate your concern, but I’m focusing on advice from my medical team and close family.”

This model can help manage interactions, especially when navigating unsolicited advice or questions.

Language for Enforcing Boundaries

A helpful structure is: “I value [this], so I need [that], and I will honor that by [action].”

  • Assertive Yet Kind: “I value your support, but I need to manage this in my own way.”
  • Setting Limits: “I’m not up for a visit today, but let’s text or have a call instead.”
  • Redirecting Conversations: “Let’s talk about something other than my illness. How about [another topic]?”
  • Requesting Privacy: “I’m keeping some aspects of my treatment private. Let’s respect that boundary.”

 

Tips for Maintaining Boundaries

  • Consistency is Key: Regularly reaffirm your boundaries.
  • Self-Care: Prioritize your needs without guilt.
  • Seek Support: Consider talking to a therapist or joining support groups.
  • Be Clear: Use straightforward language to express your boundaries.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Remember, prioritizing your well-being is necessary and valid.

Boundaries are essential for everyone but are particularly crucial for young adults navigating cancer. By setting and maintaining healthy boundaries, you can foster relationships that support your healing and well-being. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your needs, and with practice, communicating your boundaries will become easier. b-present is here to support you every step of the way!

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Celebrating Your Cancerversary

Throughout a cancer experience, every milestone is a victory worth celebrating. For young adults navigating the twists and turns of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship, the word “cancerversary” holds a special place in their hearts. We’re here to talk about cancerversaries and how you can celebrate them.


 

What is a Cancerversary?

A cancerversary, short for cancer anniversary, is a significant milestone for cancer survivors. A cancerversary isn’t just another day on the calendar—it’s your personal victory lap! The milestone is defined by YOU. Whether it’s the day you got the news, finished treatment, or hit a turning point, your cancerversary is all about celebrating YOU. It’s like your own special holiday, filled with triumph, resilience, and gratitude. Cancerversary means survivorship – living with, through, and beyond cancer. So why not shout it from the rooftops and embrace every moment?

I truly would rather celebrate this day than my actual birthday!” –  Meghan K.

 

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Why Celebrating Milestones is Important

In the whirlwind of facing cancer, every step forward is a victory worth celebrating. Cancerversaries are your chance to pause, reflect, and give yourself a high-five for making it this far. They’re reminders of your strength and the amazing support cheering you on. So go ahead, take a moment to bask in your awesomeness!

How to Celebrate YOUR Day

Your cancerversary, your rules! Here are some ideas to make your day as special as you are:

  • Spend time with your loved ones: Whether it’s a virtual hangout or an in-person party, surround yourself with the people who’ve been there for you every step of the way.
  • Pamper yourself: Whether it’s a spa day, your favorite meal, or a mini getaway, indulge in whatever brings you joy and makes you feel like your best self.
  • Create new traditions: Start something special that’s uniquely YOU. Plant a tree, release sky lanterns, or try something wild and adventurous.
  • Celebrate on social: Let the world know about your cancerversary! Share a post, a photo, or a heartfelt message on your favorite social media platform. Your story could inspire others and spread hope far and wide.

 

 

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  • Pay it forward: Spread the love by giving back. Volunteer, share your story, or join a support group. Your experience can inspire others and make the world a brighter place. Take survivor Julian Castaneda for example. He pays it forward with Bags of Love.

 

How Friends & Family Can Show Support

Celebrating your loved one’s cancerversary is all about showing love, admiration, and unwavering support. Here’s how you can make their day even more epic:

  • Send love notes: A heartfelt message, a silly card, or a simple text can make their day sparkle with joy and love.
  • Plan a celebration: Organize a party, a picnic in the park, or a virtual gathering to celebrate them. Always remember to check in with your loved one to make sure they are feeling up to celebrating the day.
  • Acts of kindness: From homemade treats to warm hugs, every little gesture shows you’ve got their back.
  • Be present: Sometimes, the best gift is simply being there – listening, laughing, and holding space for all the feels. 

Join our #SupportSquad

Want to learn how to be the best supporter you can be? Sign up to get access to free resources, tips, and stories from those who’ve been there.

Cancerversaries aren’t just milestones—they’re celebrations of life and love. So here’s to you, your resilience, and the road ahead! As you reflect on the past and embrace the future, may each cancerversary be a reminder of your indomitable spirit and the joy of living life to the fullest.

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Overly Supportive Behavior During Cancer: The Fine Line

When a young adult is diagnosed with cancer, it upends their life and sends shockwaves through the lives of those around them. In our eagerness to support, we may unintentionally cross into overly supportive territory, potentially leading to unintended consequences. At b-present, we are dedicated to guiding our community in refining their support strategies to enhance the well-being of young adults facing cancer.

Our Supporter Roadmap helps young adult support networks navigate this difficult time. It emphasizes the importance of understanding how our loved ones want to be supported before organizing and offering support. Understanding their needs and boundaries ensures they get the support they need when they need it. It mitigates the added stress that comes when well-intentioned but unhelpful support is offered.


 

Recognizing Overly Supportive Behavior

Overly supportive behavior, rooted in love and concern, can become overwhelming. Understanding these tendencies is crucial for adopting a more mindful approach to support.

The Constant Caregiver

Consider a scenario where help is non-stop. Meals are always ready, and every conversation revolves around health updates, often overwhelming the individual seeking normalcy and autonomy.

A Real-Life Example: Sarah’s Story

Sarah, 25, recently diagnosed with cancer, is enveloped in a wave of support from friends and family. Her best friend, Emily, becomes the epicenter of this support, organizing meal trains, group chats, and social media campaigns to rally support. Initially comforting, this barrage of support soon becomes suffocating for Sarah. She begins to feel like her personal challenges have turned into a public spectacle, limiting her ability to express her true needs and feelings.

Emily’s well-meaning actions highlight a common pitfall of overly supportive behavior: the overwhelming intensity and volume of support can block the individual’s own needs, leading to stress rather than comfort.

The Optimism Overload

Demanding optimism, with constant reminders to “Just stay positive” or assurances that “Everything will be fine!” can pressure the individual to mask their true emotions, intensifying feelings of isolation.

The Rallying Cry

Attempts to demonstrate support with public displays or social media initiatives can unintentionally turn private struggles into unwanted public affairs, heightening the discomfort of your loved one. It is important to honor the privacy boundaries of the person diagnosed and not overshare without their approval.

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The Unintended Consequences of Being Overly Supportive

The results of overly supportive behavior can deeply affect the mental and emotional well-being of young adults with cancer.

Increased Stress and Anxiety

The relentless focus on positivity and recovery can increase stress, placing an unnecessary burden on the individual to update, thank, and reassure their supporters.

Loss of Personal Space and Identity

Overly supportive actions that overlook the need for privacy and autonomy can amplify the loss of self, pushing the individual to yearn for interactions that transcend their illness. The b-there connection & support app helps minimize unwanted or misaligned interactions by helping supporters know how and when to show up, or when to give space.

b-there app


 

Strained Relationships

When support becomes overbearing, it can strain relationships, leading to withdrawal and isolation at a time when genuine connection is crucial.

Navigating Support with Sensitivity

Identifying the delicate balance between being supportive and overly so is essential. Support should respect boundaries, embrace the full spectrum of emotions, and sometimes, simply provide a quiet, unassuming presence that respects the individual’s need for empathy, authenticity, and normalcy.

Offering Support without Overstepping

Gestures like sending a no-pressure message or engaging in non-cancer-centered activities can be profoundly supportive, acknowledging the individual’s struggle while respecting their autonomy.

Creating a Safe Space for Authentic Expression

Fostering an environment of open, judgment-free communication allows individuals to express their true feelings, ensuring they feel heard and understood without the pressure to appear strong.

Striking the Right Balance

Supporting a loved one with cancer can be scary and overwhelming, but your loved one needs your empathy and understanding now more than ever. By being mindful of our approach and sensitive to the unique needs and boundaries of young adults, we can offer support that truly uplifts, empowers, and most importantly, respects the individuality of each person’s cancer experience.

At b-present, we are committed to cultivating a community of support grounded in intention, empathy, and genuine connection. We invite you to join us in rethinking how we support young adults with cancer, ensuring our actions and words provide upliftment without overwhelming.

Learn more about supporting a friend:

 

Tips to Help Choose a Connection & Support App After Cancer

After a cancer diagnosis life can feel chaotic. Choosing a good connection and support app can help everyone stay on the same page and keep things running smoothly. If you are new to the cancer experience, you may not know where to start with organizing support. Our Supporter Roadmap is a great first read to find helpful information and tips to navigate this difficult time.


Understanding what is ahead and how your loved one with cancer wants to connect and be supported will help frame how to move forward and work together to organize and empower the support network. The next step is finding some helpful tools and resources to make communicating easy, keep you up to date and in sync with their needs.

Finding the Right App

There are a variety of apps and tools available to help with organizing support, connecting patients with their caregivers and peers, and improving communication and connection. For example, if you want a simple and easy tool to clearly communicate with each other, the b-there App for connection and support is a great option. Click the button below to learn more.


It is often a personal choice when it comes to selecting the best app(s) for the job, and it depends on the needs of the patient and the support network. Continue reading for some helpful tips to find an app that is right for you.

Questions to ask:

  • Ease of use
    • Is the app user-friendly and easy to navigate?
    • Does it have a clear and simple interface that allows users to find the information they need?
    • The more complex the app is, the less likely people will use it.
  • Customization
    • Does the app allow users to customize their profiles and communication preferences? This includes setting privacy settings, as well as selecting who has access to certain information.
  • Features
    • Does the app have features that are useful for both the patient and the support network?
    • Some examples: requesting support (meals, transportation, errands, visits, items), sharing status updates (short form or journal entries), desire to connect, and private messaging.
  • Privacy/Security
    • Does the app protect personal information and data?
    • Does it require user authentication to login?
    • Are you able to delete people from your network, as well as completely delete your account at any time?
  • Community
    • Does the app have a supportive community of users who can provide support and advice?

Tips to Help Choose a Connection & Support App After Cancer

App features to consider

Define the key features and functions most helpful and important to the loved one being supported and the support network. Consider getting together to discuss your goals with using the app and brainstorm what features are necessary. Everyone will have different goals, so try to find a good compromise.

Below is a list of features to consider:

  • Login + Authentication
    • Do you prefer to use one of your existing accounts to log in or do you prefer to use your email and create a password?
    • When you are done using the app, are you able to completely delete your account (caution: uninstalling the app does not necessarily mean your data is removed).
  • Profile
    • Do you want to be able to access your contacts, photos when creating your profile?
    • What kind of information is important to include in your profile?
    • Is the information optional or required? Having fields that are optional is nice and gives you the flexibility to share as you see fit.
  • Network Setup
    • Prefer an invite-only network or do you want anyone that wants to help see your status and needs?
    • Want to limit what each person sees?
    • Do you want to be able to delete contacts that are less than helpful?
  • Status + Updates
    • What is your communication style?
    • What will be most helpful for the group to organize support and be present to best match your needs?
    • Direct and to the point? Or is a journaling format more your thing?
      • A journaling feature is helpful for processing emotions as well as keeping people updated, and some supporters enjoy reading the longer entries. However, other supporters may prefer short, clear directions so they can best understand how you are and how they can show up for you. With a journaling style, they may still need clarification on what support is needed, so make sure other features address this more immediate information need.
  • Calendar + Scheduling
    • Is it important to have a calendar within the app, or do you prefer to use your own calendar to track events and tasks? There are advantages to both, and it just depends on whether you will be diligent about checking multiple calendars or prefer having everything in your master calendar associated with your email.
  • Wishlist
    • Do you want to be able to coordinate needed items or activities? If so, a wish list can be a useful feature. To avoid duplication, ensure there is a signup management feature so that once someone claims a wish, it is no longer available to others. This will save time and avoid confusion and duplication of wishes. Also, being able to provide links to exact items, shared documents or lists reduces stress for everyone.
  • Messaging
    • Do you want to have a messaging system within the app, or is it easier to use your existing communication methods separately from the app? Similar to the calendar feature, things can get missed if you have to track multiple apps. Also, consider whether the loss of those messages after the account is deleted is a problem.
  • Notifications
    • Do you want to be notified when there are updates? If so, how?
    • Do you want to have the flexibility to adjust your notification preferences?
  • Health Information Tracking
    • Do you want the app to be a full-service app that tracks other health information as well? It can be nice to have everything in one place, but may also create a much more complicated app experience. This is especially true if you are connecting to other health or hospital systems.

Although not a complete list, the feature list above will get the conversation started. Once you have your list of needs, compare it to the features and functionality of each app and select the one that best fits those needs. In some cases, you may need more than one app to meet your support needs.

When in Doubt – Ask the Community for Their Input

If you still have questions or are unsure, consider asking health professionals, other patients, and caregivers that have experience to get their feedback on a particular app. Before making a final selection, confirm it will work for everyone. If the app is too complicated for the group, or not available for their mobile device, those can be deterrents to staying coordinated.

Tips to Help Choose a Connection & Support App After Cancer 2

Connection and support app options

Several online connection and support apps are available. Here are a few apps designed to improve connection and support after a cancer diagnosis (listed alphabetically):

  • b-there connection & support: A free mobile app that eases communication and connection. Patients and survivors can share their status, desire to connect, manage activities, and request needed items. Supporters can check the app for updates on how their loved one feels before connecting or stopping by, and they can sign up to fulfill items from their wish list.
  • CaringBridge: A free, personal website that allows patients and their loved ones to share updates, photos, and videos. It also provides a way to schedule meals, rides, and appointments.
  • Ianacare: A platform that makes it easy to coordinate and schedule help and support for patients and their caregivers. It also provides a way to connect with other people who are going through similar experiences.
  • Lotsa Helping Hands: A care coordination platform that enables friends and family to provide support to loved ones during a health crisis.
  • MealTrain: A meal coordination platform that makes it easy for friends and family to sign up to bring meals to patients and their caregivers.

Have you had a good experience with another app? Contact us and share the link.

Helpful tips for using the app

After selecting the app, these steps will help ensure the best experience possible.

Send everyone the app information 

Send them a link and be sure it is available on their mobile device. Urge them to download the app, register, and set up their account as soon as possible, ensuring they are ready to support when needed. If it is helpful for group members, set up a time to get together and walk through the app and help everyone become familiar with it.

Agree to some basic support ground rules

Setting a few ground rules about group behavior, including communication etiquette, providing timely updates, checking the app regularly, following through, responding to wish invitations, and honoring visit and support preferences, will keep things on track. It may help to identify a lead and a backup supporter to ensure timely updates are provided when a loved one is unwell or unable to provide their own updates. A tool is only as good as the information provided, so if it is outdated or incorrect, you may get the opposite effect, discouraging the support network from staying connected, and worse, causing the person needing help to feel unsupported.

Check the app regularly 

Notifications vary from app to app, so everyone needs to check the app regularly so updates and needs are not missed. Life gets busy, so setting a regular reminder to check is always a good plan. Once support is underway, work together to keep things running smoothly. Needs and updates will vary, but if there is an important update and you want to make sure everyone sees it, you can also use a group chat urging everyone to check the app (remembering to honor any privacy guidelines set out by the patient on these other channels).

Be specific with needs 

When asking for support or comfort items, the old saying “be careful what you wish for” holds especially true here. If you have something specific in mind or if there are some critical date/time/location requirements, be as specific as possible. This means including links to shared documents or lists or, as appropriate, a URL to a specific item so the supporter clicks the link and has a clear idea of what is needed (or buy the item). The clearer you can be, the better – it will reduce confusion and stress for everyone.

Tips to Help Choose a Connection & Support App After Cancer 3

We’re stronger together.

It takes a village to support someone going through a difficult life event like cancer, so work together, be flexible, be patient, and kind to each other. The experience will likely be new for everyone. A good coordination tool is only one piece of the puzzle. Good communication is also vital to providing good support. We don’t know what we don’t know, so being clear will save time, energy, money, and, most importantly, reduces stress and uncertainty. Have each other’s back, try not to take things personally, and respect your loved one’s choices and decisions.

By following these basic guidelines and using the tool(s) consistently, you will be stronger together. By everyone doing their part, the workload will be more manageable, and the quality of life will improve for your loved ones and you.

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