Coping with Your Breast Cancer

Coping with breast cancer can be easier with the help of supportive friends and family.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a frightening experience. Hopefully the following tips will help you and your loved ones better deal with your diagnosis.

Handling Your Emotions

  • Allow yourself to react. It's okay to cry! Feeling shock, anxiety, fear, sadness, depression, overwhelmed and "numb" are all normal reactions.
  • Don’t expect yourself to react a certain way. Every woman deals with the diagnosis differently based on personality, coping skills and previous life experience.
  • Find someone to confide in.
  • Try journaling – some women find it helpful.
  • Focus on life one day at a time.
  • Know that you are the same radiant woman despite this diagnosis, treatment and surgery.
  • Attend a breast cancer support group where other women can identify with what you are going through. Visit to find local support groups.

Gathering Information

  • Rarely is breast cancer a medical emergency. Take time to gather information and learn about this disease.
  • Ask your doctor and health care providers for written information.
  • Take a notebook or tape recorder to your doctor's appointments and write down your questions ahead of time.
  • Invite your spouse or significant other to come to doctor's visits to pick up what you may miss.
  • Don't take too much advice from well meaning friends and family until you have all the facts and your treatment plan in place.
  • Be aware that internet resources are not always reliable or may not pertain to your specific situation. Discuss whatever you learn with your doctor.
  • Get a second opinion if it will help you make a treatment decision more confidently.
  • Make the best treatment choices with your doctor from the information you've gathered.

Making Your Health a Priority

  • Eat a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables and grains, and low in fat.
  • Exercise regularly. Choose an activity you enjoy such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
  • Get plenty of rest and a full night's sleep.
  • Choose to work or not work during treatment based on your own needs. Usually your doctor will support whichever option you choose.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Surround yourself with positive and helpful people.
  • Plan for fun times.
  • Keep your sense of humor – it’s essential and good for the immune system!
  • Check with your doctor before taking any supplements or over the counter medications as they could interfere with your treatment.

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Talking to Children

  • Be open and honest with them when explaining the diagnosis in simple terms.
  • Keep in mind that their fears are often worse than reality.
  • Remember that children are adept at picking up on your actions and reactions and how you are coping.
  • Let your children respond in their own ways - children will respond differently based on their ages and personalities.
  • Let them know what they can do to help out.
  • Assure them that their life will continue as before (as much as possible).
  • Look into support groups and books that help children whose parent has cancer.

Dealing with the Fear of Recurrence

  • Don’t expect yourself to react a specific way – women cope differently.
  • Remember that while you cannot change your diagnosis, you can change your attitude about it.
  • Keep your appointments for follow up once your treatment is through.
  • Discuss your fears with your spouse and/or significant other and doctor.
  • Face your own mortality – it can help you realize what is most important in life.
  • Consider seeking spiritual comfort.
  • Take time for prayer, meditation and quietness.
  • List your fears and then write down next to each what you are able and not able to do about it.
  • Prioritize what is most important for you to do and take steps to meet those goals. Learn to say "no" to the non-essentials.
  • Savor life one day at a time.

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