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.
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. It's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with such worries.
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.
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 can also 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.
- NCI's Cancer Information Service can help you locate programs, services, and NCI publications. Call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). Or, chat using LiveHelp, NCI's instant messaging service.
- Your doctor or a sex counselor may be helpful if you and your partner are concerned about the effects of breast cancer on your sex life. Ask your doctor about possible treatment of side effects and whether these effects are likely to last. Whatever the outlook, you and your partner may find it helps to discuss your concerns.
For tips on coping, you may want to read the NCI booklet Taking Time: Support for People With Cancer.