Coping with your metastatic breast cancer diagnosis
Learning you have metastatic breast cancer can be overwhelming. Right now you may be feeling and thinking many things all at once. Life may feel out of your control. It’s natural to ask: Who can help me? What happens next? What do I do now?
An estimated 155,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer in the United States. What was once a rarely discussed disease is getting more public attention through the efforts of people with metastatic breast cancer. They work to educate the public and to advocate for more treatments to extend lives.
Metastatic breast cancer is life-changing, and managing the disease will now be part of your daily life. Rest assured that advances in research and treatment have made it possible for many to live longer, more fulfilling lives than in the past. The disease varies from person to person and your treatment experiences will be unique.
No matter how familiar you are with breast cancer, the next few days, weeks, and months will likely be challenging. You’ll hear new medical terms, undergo many diagnostic tests, and meet medical professionals you may not have needed in the past. Adapting to ongoing treatment may take time, but there are many ways to prepare.
Feeling many emotions all at once is understandable. People facing a serious diagnosis often feel anger, loss, confusion, and fear. There is no “right way” to feel. Your emotions are a result of your situation, your personality, and your personal coping style. These feelings may change throughout your treatment as you confront new challenges.
Whatever your reactions, allow yourself to experience them. Know that resources are available to support you throughout your journey. A metastatic diagnosis comes with different worries at different times. No one expects you to be strong, brave, or “together” all the time. No one expects you to handle this alone.
There are many people and resources that can help if and when you feel distressed or overwhelmed, including: