Breast Cancer Sources of Support
Learning that you have breast cancer can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that such a diagnosis can bring.
Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are common. You may also worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities.
Several organizations offer special programs for women with breast cancer. Women who have had the disease serve as trained volunteers. They may talk with or visit women who have breast cancer, provide information, and lend emotional support. They often share their experiences with breast cancer treatment, breast reconstruction, and recovery.
You may be afraid that changes to your body will affect not only how you look but also how other people feel about you. You may worry that breast cancer and its treatment will affect your sexual relationships. Many couples find it helps to talk about their concerns. Some find that counseling or a couples' support group can be helpful.
Here's where you can go for support:
- Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities.
- Social workers, counselors, or members of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, social workers can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
- Support groups also can help. In these groups, women with breast cancer or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
- Women with breast cancer often get together in support groups, but please keep in mind that each woman is different. Ways that one woman deals with cancer may not be right for another. You may want to ask your health care provider about advice you receive from other women with breast cancer.
- Information specialists at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) and at LiveHelp can help you locate programs, services, and publications. They can send you a list of organizations that offer services to women with cancer.