Women diagnosed with breast cancer are left in an emotionally vulnerable position. Hearing the news that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer is not easy to deal with. The words “breast cancer” can be jarring and you may feel alone in your battle. Upon receiving this news it is important for you to find a support network. Gathering friends and families as a team is an important part of beating breast cancer. Sometimes a patient with breast cancer may want to take on this battle on their own for fear of burdening those around them. However, in most cases those people close to you want to help you succeed and be a teammate in your battle against breast cancer. It is important not only to find and recognize those people looking to join you in your battle, but also open up to them and accept their support. In fact, a new study published in the journal Cancer discusses the benefits of having a team of supporters on your road to recovery.
Benefits of Gathering an All-Star Team
A paper titled “Decision-support networks of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer” published in late June in the journal Cancer explains the many benefits of surrounding yourself with a strong support network. The study surveyed over 2,500 women with early stage breast cancer about the number of people who were involved in their treatment decision process. Based on those surveyed, 51% of patients said at least three people helped them in their treatment decisions, 20 percent said two people, and 18 percent said just one other person.1 The survey also found that African-American and Latina women reported larger support networks than white women and married or partnered women also reported larger networks.1 Women reported a wide range of people as part of their decision making network, including children, friends, siblings, parents, and other relatives.1 When asked about how having a support network can help a breast cancer patient, Lauren P. Wallner, Ph.D., MPH, lead investigator of the study, said “People just diagnosed with cancer are often scared and overwhelmed. Having another person to help them process information is important.”2 Additionally, those having larger support networks were more likely to discuss and deliberate their treatment options with members of on their decision support team. These extra conversations allow patients to think through all of their options and weigh the pros and cons of extending their anti-estrogen treatment, which is becoming increasingly important.2
Some Ways to Find and Receive Support
Some patients diagnosed with breast cancer may need help identifying a support network that is right for them, or may want to expand and add to the team they already have. There are many ways to do this. The first thing to do is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everybody has been affected by breast cancer in one way or another. Reaching out to someone for help may present them with a golden opportunity to change the way breast cancer personally affects them. Most people would take pride in being asked to join your support team in your fight to beat breast cancer. If sharing your feelings with close friends and family isn’t your thing, but you still need the support of a team there are many outlets to accomplish this as well. Breast Cancer patients often take solace in sharing their stories of triumph and tribulations with other Breast Cancer patients. Support groups made up of breast cancer patients are often catered to fit the specifics of those within the group, like age and stage of breast cancer.3 There are many resources to help you find groups like these, including the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service, your local chapters of the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen for the cure, and any local hospitals and breast cancer clinics.4 Additionally, many support groups can be accessed online or over the phone. These groups allow patients to receive the help they need from the comfort of their own home.5 One particularly helpful website is BreastCancer.org, an online community with information, resources, and support groups.
It is important to ask yourself whether a support group is right for you. Some people may prefer more individualized, one on one support. If this sounds like you, it may be best to talk to an oncology social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor. Your hospital and doctor should have recommendations for you.5 On the other hand, if you have identified your need to join a breast cancer support group, one thing to consider is what kind of support group are you looking for. Support groups typically focus on one of two needs: information or emotional support.6 Depending on your needs you can choose to surround yourself with those who will be most beneficial to you. More online resources like The Tigerlily Foundation, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, The Young Survival Coalition, and Sharsheret are good informational resources that provide both online communities and communal meet ups and events in several cities for support.
This material was created or sponsored by Biotheranostics, Inc. The content, products and services discussed are offered to educate consumers on health care and medical issues that may affect their daily lives and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment information, including your specific medical needs, and to answer any questions regarding personal health or medical conditions.
For Breast Cancer Index Intended Use and Limitations, visit www.answersbeyond5.com.