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How to Ask For Support from Friends When Unwell: Answered


VICTORIA, Australia November 2013 – As Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month has just come to a close, Australians have had a chance  to focus on breast cancer and its impact on those affected by the disease in their community. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) and fortunately, survival rates continue to improve in Australia with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving 5 years or more beyond diagnosis.* But what are the hidden costs of cancer?

Alexandra Stewart survived breast cancer only to realise that most of her family and friends had disappeared during her time of need. She knew they loved her, but they just didn’t know how to support her during her ordeal, and she got to asking herself “how to stay in touch with friends when you have cancer?”. Not one to give up, she beat cancer and then kept herself busy finding creative ways to bridge the gap between cancer patients and their loved ones. “I believe we can all ‘Be Chicken Soup’ for someone. Others would call this being a mate,” says Alexandra, who has since created services to help loved ones learn how to support a friend with cancer, and help cancer patients ask for support.

As Managing Director and Founder of Cancer Friends, Alex says, “We produce a ‘Be Chicken Soup’ leaflet that is distributed free to hospitals. It has a checklist that a patient can use to communicate their needs to their friends. The checklist is also used by friends to communicate what they are able to offer – a very easy way of opening up a dialogue between friends and ensuring they know how to support a friend with cancer.”

Alex has just launched her new book ‘Friendships: The Hidden Victims of Cancer’, a crowd-funding campaign for breast cancer awareness, plus a preview of her new offering – the iCare4u mobile application. Alex hopes to complete the new iCare4u app by December, just in time for Christmas.

Alex explains, “There has been a cry out for methods of how to stay in touch with friends when you have cancer. Social media has helped but can be impersonal. This is the reason we have the iCare4u app in development.”

“I speak from firsthand experience about the loss of friends during cancer, it’s a real phenomenon and I’m doing all I can to stop it from happening to others,” says Alex, a Community Liaison for Breast Cancer Network Australia.

Samantha Johns, a friend of someone with cancer says, “I was shocked when my friend was diagnosed with leukaemia. I thought I would know the best way to help her - turns out I didn’t. I was making all the “mistakes”. Luckily, I read Alex’s ‘Friendships: The Hidden Victims of Cancer’ book and my friend and I are still close.”

Discover how to ask for support from friends when unwell at


 How to support a friend
 Cancer + friends
 When you have cancer
 Friends with cancer
 Friends who are unwell

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