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What Types of Help Are Available to Breast Cancer Patients? continued...

Sometimes, others who have been through similar experiences can explain things differently than your doctors do. And you will gain strength in knowing that you are not facing this alone.

Remember that others may share information or experiences that do not apply to you. Never replace your doctor's advice with that given to another patient.

The American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program offers special help to breast cancer patients. Trained volunteers, who have had breast cancer themselves, visit patients at the doctor's request to lend support. Call 800-ACS-2345 for more information.

Financial counseling. A financial counselor can answer questions you may have about money issues related to your medical care.

What If I Become Unable to Make Decisions About My Health Care?

You may want to make documents called advance directives, such as a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care.

Your living will gives clear instructions regarding whether you want treatment that artificially prolongs your life, like dialysis or a ventilator. This document is prepared while you are able to make medical decisions. It's used only if you become unable to make your own medical decisions later. 

Your durable power of attorney for health care lets you appoint another person to speak for you if you can't express what type of medical care you want.

Should I Write a Will?

No one likes to think about his or her own mortality, but everyone should have a will. It can ensure that those who survive you will know how to carry out your wishes. This document should be prepared with your attorney.

What Should a Breast Cancer Patient's Family and Friends Keep In Mind?

Your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment may be difficult for family and friends. Here are some tips for your family and friends:

  • Feel free to ask the doctor questions if you accompany your loved one to her appointments.
  • Be prepared for changes in your loved one's behavior and mood. Medications, discomforts, and stress can cause her to become depressed, angry, or fatigued.
  • Encourage your loved one to be as active and independent as possible, to help her regain a sense of self-reliance and confidence.
  • Be realistic about your own needs. Be sure you are sleeping enough, eating right, and taking some time off for yourself. It is hard to offer much help when you are exhausted. If you take care of your needs, it may be easier to meet the needs of your loved one.
  • Don't hesitate to ask other family members and friends for help.

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