A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. And just when you’re trying to cope with the shock and the fears about your future, you’re asked to make important decisions about your treatment.
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Every woman finds her own way of coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. Until you find what works for you, it might help to:
Learn what you need to know about your breast cancer. If you’d like to know more about your breast cancer, ask your doctor for the details of your cancer — the type, stage and hormone receptor status. Ask for good sources of up-to-date information on your treatment options. Knowing more about your cancer and your options may help you feel more confident when making treatment decisions. Still, some women may not want to know the details of their cancer. If this is how you feel, let your doctor know that, too.
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Talk with other breast cancer survivors. You may find it helpful and encouraging to talk to other women with breast cancer. Contact the American Cancer Society to find out about support groups in your area and online.
Find someone to talk about your feelings with. Find a friend or family member who is a good listener, or talk with a clergy member or counselor. Ask your doctor for a referral to a counselor or other professional who works with cancer survivors.
Keep your friends and family close. Your friends and family can provide a crucial support network for you during your cancer treatment. As you begin telling people about your breast cancer diagnosis, you’ll likely get many offers for help. Think ahead about things you may want help with, whether it’s having someone to talk to if you’re feeling low or getting help preparing meals.
Maintain intimacy with your partner. In Western cultures, women’s breasts are associated with attractiveness, femininity and sexuality. Because of these attitudes, breast cancer may affect your self-image and erode your confidence in intimate relationships. Talk to your partner about your insecurities and your feelings.
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For more information about breast cancer, visit www.mayoclinic.org.