Why Cancer Patients Need a Good Bra {and it’s not what you think!}



CANCER. It’s a complete sucker punch. And when it happens to someone we love, IT. SUCKS.

We’re desperate to help, but feel helpless.

I’ve had cancer. I’ve supported both of my parents through it. My strategy? BE A BRA. Lift up. Provide support. Give comfort.

Cancer is a roller coaster of emotions. Some days feel calm. Others feel out of control. Surgery and treatment can create mismatched expectations and discomfort. The unknown is scary and overwhelming for BOTH of you, in completely different ways. It’s personal. So get personal.

Your 12-step program to being a “bra”:

  1. Call/text.  I can’t tell you how many people dropped out of my life (family included) because they just didn’t know what to say. Set reminders in your phone to reach out. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know what to say, but I love you and I’m here” to begin dialogue.
  2. Use snail mail. Cards and care packages are powerful. Not good with words? Get a card that is expressive. My favorite cards are empathy cards made by a Survivor.

    Emily McDowell’s cards are my favorite! Photo credit: emilymcdowell.com
  3. Send a Healing Basket. There are tons of side effects associated with cancer and treatment, from dry mouth and cracked lips, to hair and weight loss (and lots in between). Educate yourself on specific treatments and tailor your package. Pinterest has oodles of ideas! When in doubt, gift cards work – two of my faves are Netflix (hello, crappy hospital TV) and non hospital food (yum!).
  4. Bring a meal. Err-body’s gotta eat. Right after surgery or chemo, or in last weeks of radiation, there’s EXHAUSTION.  Take Them A Meal is a shareable online sign up system for meal delivery that helps you coordinate meals and share the signup list. Sidenote: Taste buds usually change, so ask what tastes good. 
  5. Babysit. Paying a babysitter adds up quickly. Cancer patients are constantly in/out for tests and bloodwork, so this can be an undue hardship. Providing childcare can also allow a husband and wife to attend a doctor’s appointment together.
  6. Make a CD. This is especially fab for daily drives to radiation, which are a drag. Include some empowering songs and a few that bring back good memories/inspire car dancing.
  7. Send pics. It’s hard when you’re far away from your loved one during this process. I used a simple DVD program to sync my Dad’s favorite digital photos to music, to comfort him in those solitary, nerve-wracking moments before/after surgery. For my Mom, I opted to make a photo book with signs my kids made for each day of her radiation.

    We created an album of pics for each day Nana was in radiation to show her our support.
  8. *If you’re a praying person, hold their hands and pray for them out loud. It might sound hokey, but there is comfort in knowing someone is praying for you. 
  9. Support self care. Cancer can often bring depression and anxiety. If you notice this in your loved one, gently support self care. There’s a stigma to seeking therapy, but it’s 100% NORMAL for cancer patients. Local support groups are incredibly helpful.
  10. Tag along. Go with them to the doctor, or offer to drive and wait in the waiting room. You not only provide moral support, but also a set of ears – doctor visits can be incredibly overwhelming and draining. Even things like picking out a wig can seem intimidating when alone.
  11. Celebrate. Good bloodwork? Clear scan? No mo’ chemo? In the world of a cancer patient, this is GIGANTIC. Remember that their life revolves around blood counts and scans. MAKE IT IMPORTANT TO YOU, TOO.
  12. Get them out. It’s easy to get stuck at home when in the trenches with cancer. Because exhaustion. Germs. Depression. Taking your loved one out, even for drive-thru Starbucks or ice cream, can be incredibly good for lifting spirits.

Remember that if you’re gonna support a loved one, do what they need. They’re juggling a landslide of emotions and might be suppressing emotions to protect their kids or spouse. Frankly, having to juggle your emotions puts an undue burden on them. If you’re having trouble dealing (which is totally normal, BTW), there’s no shame in seeing a therapist, so that you can be a fabulously supportive, comfortable, uplifting bra.

Handy Resources:

American Cancer Society

Pink Ribbons

A Fitting Place


Thriving With Cancer (Women Only)

Hope Lodge

Methodist Hospital Resources




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Jeanie is a perfectly imperfect mama, transplanted to Cordova fresh out of graduate school. She and her husband, Matt, had no intent on making Memphis “home” – but ten years later, they’re still here (and love it!). They have three saucy gingers, along with three “fur babies”. Between homeschooling and chairing graduate Psychology departments online, life is never boring in the Whinghter house. It’s no surprise that Jeanie fancies coffee, but she also loves bargain shopping and embarrassing her children with her questionable singing/dancing skills. She’s had more #PinterestFails that she can count and has perfected the art of giving a good pep talk (watch out, puberty!). Motherhood has slowly transformed her into the “uncool” Mom she thought she’d never be, yet she’s never felt cooler or more content with her life.


  1. I am Jeanie’s mom, a breast cancer survivor since my cancer was surgically removed on August 26, 2015. She was literally my sole lifeline while I underwent subsequent daily radiation for weeks. Every day I received an uplifting “countdown” email with appropriate scripture. During my final week a handwritten book arrived in the mail, complete with daily “go away cancer” photos penned by her three children. It will always remain one of my most treasured possessions – ahead even of wedding memorabilia which I’ve revisited every September 3 for 49 years.

    Not daily, but more often than weekly, I still revisit my diagnosis and wonder how much longer I’ll be around. After all, I’m already 70 years old. (Shh – my buddies think that I am 35!) Obamacare allows no cancer treatment after 76 yo – except for the President and Congressmen – check the fine print to verify my perusal. Every scheduled appointment with my radiology oncologist, surgeon, or oncologist produces anxiety – which is normal- but still stressful. I exist in 3 month intervals.

    Every cancer survivor needs support from loved ones. That is essential for survival.

    Be a BRA!

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