Coping With the News

Updated 
August 31, 2015

Every year millions of Americans learn they have cancer. Yet the words “You have cancer” never lose their power.

Cancer has different meanings to different people. The way you respond to your diagnosisinfo-icon will be as unique as you are. It will reflect your personality, your past experience with and memories about cancer and other health issues, the way you manage stressful situations, and other things happening in your life at that moment. Your response may be quite different than the response of someone else who has had breast cancer.

During the first few weeks after a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s normal to have many different feelings. Anger, fear, anxietyinfo-icon or sadness may be among them. Your feelings may change from day to day, or even hour to hour.

Sometimes it’s helpful to concentrate just on getting through the next day, or even the next hour. Be patient with yourself, and try not to judge yourself. Almost everyone finds the first few weeks after diagnosis to be very difficult. Allow yourself to have your feelings. Things will improve over time as you gather information.

Here are 10 things you can do right away to help you copeinfo-icon:

  • Make a list of your doctors and their contact information
  • Decide whether you want a second opinion
  • Find out whether you can take time off work should you want to do so
  • Talk with your family and friends about your fears and concerns
  • Think about what you need most right now
  • Take good care of yourself
  • Seek information about breast cancer from trusted sources; you can start in our I Am Recently Diagnosed section
  • Make doctors' appointments
  • Keep track of your medical records. Start a folder or binder, and make copies of everything you receive
  • Write down questions and other information in a notebook or journal, or keep notes on your tablet or smartphone