Breast cancer is much more than just the physical. Breast cancer (and any other type of cancer) can also mean emotional distress, fear and uncertainty about the future, grief and financial stress. A USA Today article (link to http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/22/coping-breast-cancer-emotions/3157019/) published last week explains the emotional toll living with breast cancer can take on the spirit. It also explains that many people feel that those who have never faced a breast cancer diagnosis can’t even begin to understand the effect it has on a person’s social, psychosocial, emotional and spiritual realms, which can make many people living with cancer feel isolated. “It’s like you’ve lived in Africa for two years and you tell someone, ‘I’m going to explain to you what it’s like,’ and you show them a picture book of Africa. That doesn’t show them what Africa’s really like,” said breast cancer survivor Martha Chapman in the article.
The stress caused by breast cancer stems from many experiences beyond just the diagnosis itself, including change in self-image after hair loss, worries about work absences, guilt over being too fatigued to do anything and fear of the physical toll the disease will take. Though it may be tough to eliminate the stress that comes from living with breast cancer, there are several services CSC offers to assist with coping and managing stress so those living with cancer can focus all of their energy on living well.
Making decisions about what course of treatment to take during breast cancer is one of the most common stresses. CSC’s Open to Options counseling program allows individuals to work with a trained specialist to develop a personal list of questions and concerns to share with health care providers during medical visits.
CSC also offers online support for people unable to get to an in-person support group, or who prefer support online. The Living Room offers real-time chats led by licensed mental health professionals and discussion boards where people with breast cancer can share their experiences and offer advice to each other.
Another opportunity to connect with others facing breast cancer, and to share valuable experience and advice is through the Cancer Experience Registry, a community of people touched by cancer. Registry participants complete a survey about their cancer journey that helps identify gaps in care and programs, understand the emotional and social needs of people who have been diagnosed with cancer and helps participants to find shared experiences.
Anyone impacted by breast cancer is also encouraged to call the Cancer Support Helpline Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET to discuss their concerns or receive resources from a trained counselor.