Breast Cancer (cont.)
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 (http://www.cancer.gov/help) can help you
locate programs, services, and publications. They can send you a list of
organizations that offer services to women with cancer.