How to Be a More Effective Co-Survivor – Tips and Ideas to Guide You & Your Loved One through a Difficult Time


I’ll never know what you’re feeling or going through, but know that I’ll always be there for you. – Karla Lopez, metastatic breast cancer co-survivor (right) & sister to Sandra Lopez (left), MBC Fighter. (Pictured above)

When someone has breast cancer it’s scary for them – and for you. What can you do to really help? What should you say? Is it better to just listen? There are as many ways of being a good co-survivor as there are people! The qualifications? A willingness to be yourself and be present.

1. Just listen.

It doesn’t take time-consuming and heroic gestures to be a good co-survivor. Sometimes being there and listening is all that matters. Survivors and co-survivors share their insights on what mattered most to them when breast cancer became a part of their lives.  For example:

Wendy, co-survivor
When breast cancer confined our friend Martha to her bed, we wanted to find a way to brighten her day. We found a nail salon willing to send a manicurist to do Martha’s nails at home. Not only did it give her some much-needed pampering, but it allowed her to feel like a normal woman and not a “patient” for a little while.

Read tips and ideas submitted by survivors and co-survivors

2. Embrace the change and communicate.

Breast cancer can change the lives of those affected and those around them. Get help on how to talk about tough subjects, stay flexible, make adjustments, deal with change and stay open and honest with each other about feelings, needs and expectations.

Talking with Your Partner
Talking with Your Children
Support After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Sexuality and Intimacy
Life After Breast Cancer Treatment
End-of-Life Care
Follow-up After Breast Cancer Treatment
Medical Vocabulary

3. Simple gestures go a long way.


Looking for more ways to lend a hand someone battling breast cancer? There are lots of ways to help out, show you care and make others aware:

Create an online calendar to organize meal deliveries, rides and other tasks to assist your loved one as he or she travels the breast cancer journey.

Caption on photo: Karla Lopez (right), knew her sister, Sandra (left) would miss her hair the most so she shaved hers in support.

Bring together family, friends and coworkers to help support and care for your loved one through a caring social network and planner. CaringBridge provides sites where friends and family can stay connected and updated on someone’s health event and leave messages of hope and encouragement. The planner also gives you the power to set a community of support in motion by organizing meals, tasks and other helpful activities.

4. What you can do in your community.

Support research, education, screening and treatment programs locally by donating to Susan G. Komen San Diego.

Join us at the San Diego Race for the Cure®, the walk to end breast cancer on Sunday, Nov. 4th in Balboa Park. Register at

Learn more on how you can participate in raising money and awareness for breast cancer by joining us at these events or even buying some of your favorite everyday products thanks to our corporate sponsors.

Need someone to talk to? 

Feeling overwhelmed? Call our breast care helpline and talk with one of our trained and caring staff members. The helpline can help you find more information, talk you through your questions or just help you get through a rough spot. Call the breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636), Monday through Friday, 9am to 10pm ET. Se habla Español.