Sources of support
Who to talk to, where to go
Facing a challenge
Once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, your life, and the life of those around you can change dramatically. These changes can be difficult to deal with, and can put strains on your relationships. It is normal that you develop many different, and sometimes confusing feelings.
You may worry about your job, family, or your daily habits. It is also common to worry about the treatment and side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills.
Members of your health care team, such as your doctor, can answer questions about treatment, work, sports, or other activities which you might have. You might also want to meet with a social worker, counsellor, or religious aid. This can be quite helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. A social worker is also in an excellent position to suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support which you can use during, and after, your fight against the cancer.
You can also look for support from friends and relatives. You may find it helpful to discuss your concerns with others who have, or have had, cancer. Your local hospital, or breast cancer organization might organize support groups for women with breast cancer. These support groups offer women a secure environment where they can talk openly about their experiences during and after their treatment. What you should keep in mind is that each woman is different. The way someone else copes with her disease might not be the right way for you.
Most women are afraid that changes to their body will not only affect themselves, but also how other people feel about them. They worry that breast cancer, and its treatment, will affect their sexual relationships. Many couples find it helpful to talk about their concerns, through counselling or a couples’ support group.
Few women today find the support they need for dealing with the implications of breast cancer. That is why breast cancer organizations have, and continue to, set up support groups and workshops for fighters and survivors. So how do you get in touch with these support groups? Your local health care often provides such support at local hospitals. These are ongoing, more than often free, support groups for woman at all stages of diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Contact your local hospital to see if they know more, or try visiting their website. In the United States of America, organisations such as the Komen foundation, the American Cancer Society, and Cancer Information Service offer similar support groups at their local branches. However, if you live outside the United States and could not to find a support group near you through your hospital try to find one visiting the section other organisations.
Breast cancer is a disease that not only affects the person fighting it, but also the family, including the children. The entire family can be put under an emotional and financial strain, this is recognized by a number of organizations. These organizations have set up scholarships to ease the financial burden, and give the kids a chance at further education. Find a brief list of scholarship programs offered to children of breast cancer patients (only in the US).