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Breast Cancer Survivor Heidi Floyd Discusses What to Say and What Not to Say

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s scary for them and you. What can you do to really help? What can you say? Is it better to just listen? In a recent episode of Susan G. Komen’s Real Pink Podcast, we sat down with breast cancer survivor, Heidi Floyd to discuss what to say and what not to say. Being first diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks after learning she was pregnant, Heidi Floyd was in a unique position of knowing what was ahead since she had lost her own mother to breast cancer at a young age. Here’s what she had to say on the subject.

Adam Walker
: Can you give us an idea of how people can offer support? What can they say? How do they listen? What’s helpful in those situations?

Heidi Floyd: I have a list, literally a giant list of things that you can do. The easiest thing you can do is when you get up in the morning, think about every step you take, everything you do, and think about what it would be like for someone going through chemotherapy or radiation. Do you get up in the morning and walk your dog? Well, someone you love might not be able to do that anymore, so you might you offer to take care of their pets for them.

The same rule applies for every family member. It’s difficult when you’re a parent going through cancer because you have little one. If you have little ones, you only want someone you trust to be around them, because you love them so fiercely. But, even if your kids are like toddlers or in elementary school, they need to be able to just get away from the world of cancer that exists in their home. They need to be able to go to the movies, go to the aquarium, go to the museum, just go to the park. It doesn’t even have to cost money. If you are loved and trusted by mom and dad, offer to take their children for an afternoon. When you come home, bring dinner for the whole family. 

AW: So just kind of little chores, really. Any little thing?

HF: Absolutely. And if that’s not your thing, like if cleaning the bathtub isn’t something you do, well, you know what, maybe you can write a check to pay a cleaning service to come in to do it. Very easy.


AW: I love that advice. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a family member or someone who was maybe just diagnosed with breast cancer?

 HF: It’s kind of like the Winnie the Pooh quote, “you’re stronger than you think you are.” For the person diagnosed, it’s going to be hard. There are days that you will just want to stay on the bathroom floor all day, and if you have to, do it. There’s no shame in this. You haven’t done one thing to deserve this. You did not cause this cancer to come inside of your body. If you have breast cancer, that’s how it is. So, don’t whisper about it. Don’t be ashamed about it. Don’t be ashamed to have a bald head and no hair on your face. It doesn’t matter. What matters is you fighting through and being as strong as you can.