A: Most of us are used to serving as primary caregivers, whether that means earning money to support our families, managing a busy household, or providing emotional support. After a diagnosis with breast cancer, it can be very challenging to give yourself permission to ask for help—it might make you feel a little uncomfortable. But remember that no one expects you to be Superwoman while you are undergoing treatment! Accepting support will give you the energy you need to focus on your health and well-being. It will also give the people "work" to do so you can focus more on your own needs.
Help means different things to different people, so think about what it means to you. Maybe you want help with practical tasks like running errands, cooking meals and paying bills. Perhaps you want someone to take you to doctor appointments or communicate with family and friends about your treatments. Or maybe you want someone to spend an hour with you talking about something other than cancer. Many people will want to help you, and giving them something to do will make them feel useful. Be specific about what you want—and what you don’t want—so you will get what you need.
Because communicating with large numbers of people during treatment can be mentally and physically exhausting, seeking help from a trusted "point person" who can communicate for you may help ease the burden. You can also visit LBBC’s Lotsa Helping Hands page to create your own website and ask for help with errands or provide your friends and family with updates about your treatment.
A: Your healthcare provider, oncology nurse or hospital social worker can help you find breast cancer support groups and other resources in your community. Your faith community may have a support group. You may also contact any major hospital or cancer center, or your local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers conferences, teleconferences, networking meetings, information on clinical trials and online support such as message boards to help keep you informed and in touch with others who can relate to what you are going through. To find someone to talk to, call the LBBC’s Breast Cancer Helpline at (888) 753-LBBC (5222). We can match you with a woman who is in a situation similar to yours. For other resources that may be helpful, visit our links page to connect with other breast cancer organizations.
A: Your healthcare provider, oncology nurse or hospital social worker can help direct you to the resources you need, whether you are looking for a support group, counseling, financial assistance, transportation to and from treatment, rehabilitation or other services or just want to connect with someone who has experienced breast cancer. Most treatment centers also have a social work, home care or discharge planning department that may be able to help you. You may be able to talk to a financial counselor in your treatment center’s business office about developing a monthly payment plan if you need help with treatment expenses.
A: Many psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and social workers have special experience working with people newly diagnosed with cancer. Ask your healthcare team for a referral. Different types of counseling include individual, group, family, self-help or peer, bereavement, patient-to-patient and sexuality. Here are some tips to help you cope:
- Talk about your stress, worries or concerns with your family, friends and healthcare providers. Find and talk to other women who have had breast cancer through LBBC’s Survivors’ Helpline at (888) 753-LBBC (5222).
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sleep well, eat well and exercise.
- Try yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises to help alleviate stress.
- Keep up with your normal activities as much as possible.
- Get professional help if you want it. See a family therapist, social worker or counselor, or a psychotherapist.
- Read our Guide to Understanding Your Emotions, which focuses on your personal concerns during treatment.
All FAQs reviewed by Cindy Miller, MSW