Getting Support for Breast Cancer
How Can I Make My Life Better?
If breast cancer is causing you stress, the most important step you can take is to seek help as soon as you feel less able to cope. (See "What Types of Help Are Available" below.) Taking action early will help you understand and deal with the many effects of your illness. Learning to manage stress will help you keep a positive physical, emotional, and spiritual outlook on life.
How Do I Keep Track of My Medical Information?
Learning about breast cancer and your care can be confusing, especially with all of the doctors and other health care professionals involved. Here are some tips for keeping track:
- Don't be afraid to ask your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional to repeat any instructions or medical terms you don't understand. They should always be available to answer your questions and address your concerns.
- Use the resources and support services offered by your hospital and in the community. Learning more about your disease will help you feel more comfortable with your treatment.
- Take notes at your appointments so that you can remember what your doctor told you. If you can bring a friend or family member to your appointments, they can help take notes and ask questions.
- Ask your family and friends to help you sort through the information you receive.
- Talk with other patients and families about breast cancer and its treatment.
What Types of Help Are Available to Breast Cancer Patients?
There are many sources of help available to provide support for breast cancer patients and their families. Among them are:
Social workers. Social workers are just one part of the caregiving team who can offer treatment in a compassionate setting. They can help you and your family talk about any concerns about your diagnosis, treatment, or personal situation.
Social workers can provide education, counseling about lifestyle changes, and referrals to support groups. Your social worker can also help your family find a temporary place to stay near the hospital, provide information about community resources, and help you with any other needs.
Individual counseling. Sometimes people have problems that are better addressed one on one. By getting individual counseling, you may feel more comfortable talking about sensitive or private feelings you have about your illness and its impact on your life and relationships.
Counseling services can help patients and their families talk about concerns and come up with ways to cope. Plus, mental health care professionals can create a treatment plan to meet your specific needs and gain a sense of control over your life and your quality of life. If necessary, medicine to treat depression may be prescribed.
Support groups. Support groups are a very useful sharing experience. They provide an environment where you can learn new ways of dealing with your illness.