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Finding Help and Support

Updated September 27, 2010

Many women experience a sense of relief after making their initial treatment decisions and choosing a healthcare team. Others feel anxiety, fear or excitement. Your feelings are reasonable responses to having your life turned upside down by a diagnosis of breast cancer.

A good next step is thinking about the kind of support you want around you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which friends or family members make you feel safest and most comfortable?
  • Who can you count on if you need a hand or if you just want someone to listen?
  • Will you want some time alone to gather your thoughts?
  • Does anyone close to you have medical experience or personal experience with breast cancer? Sometimes these people have special understanding and can help you.

Asking for Help

Most of us are used to caring for others, whether that means earning money to support our families, managing a busy household or giving emotional support. Whatever way you look at it, breast cancer puts many of us in the unfamiliar position of asking others for help.

No one expects you to be Superwoman while you are getting cancer treatment. Accepting support will give you energy to focus on your health and well-being. Give yourself permission to ask for help—even if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable.

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’s appointments or to be in touch with family and friends about your treatments. Or maybe you want someone to spend an hour with you talking about something other than cancer treatment.

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.

Where Can You Find Support?

Your treatment center. You may wish to look for support outside of family and friends. Your treatment center is a great place to start. Let your doctors and nurses know how you’re feeling. Ask to speak with an oncology social worker or counselor. Many hospitals have libraries just for people with cancer.

Support groups and mental health providers. If you feel comfortable in groups, ask your oncology nurse or social worker to recommend a support group. If you prefer talking to someone alone, ask to be referred to a mental health provider—a social worker, psychologist, counselor or psychiatrist.

Faith and volunteer communities. Take advantage of the communities where you already belong. You may find great comfort in your religious or spiritual communities. Talk with members of your church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Speak to the leaders of volunteer groups or community organizations. Once you begin talking about breast cancer, you will likely find many others whose lives have been touched by it.

Women like you. Sometimes you just want to talk to someone who knows what you’re going through. At LBBC, we can connect you with women through our Breast Cancer Helpline at (888) 753-LBBC (5222), staffed by trained volunteers who have had breast cancer. These women listen and help you think through your questions and concerns. We can even match you with a woman with a similar diagnosis or experience, if that is what you want.

LBBC and other breast cancer organizations also offer many other ways for you to meet people. At LBBC we have conferences, teleconferences, smaller community meetings. Many groups offer a variety of programs, and you can choose the ones that best meet your needs and your personality.

Get lists and contact information for support organizations in our Web Links section.

Learn about the providers who helped us write this page in the Guide for the Newly Diagnosed.

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