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Getting Support for Breast Cancer

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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.

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.

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