Facing a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Your stress levels may skyrocket. You may worry about finances. And you may be asking yourself difficult questions, such as whether to write a living will. Education and supportive care can help you deal with the many issues and emotions you're facing.
What Types Of Help Are Available?
There are many sources of help available to provide support for patients and their families. Among them are:
Social workers are just one part of the care-giving team who can offer treatment in a compassionate setting. They can help you and your family discuss any concerns about your diagnosis, treatment, or personal situation.
Social workers can provide education, counseling regarding lifestyle changes, and referrals to community or national agencies and support groups. Your social worker can also help your family find temporary lodging in your community, provide information about community resources, and help you with any other needs.
Sometimes people have problems that are better addressed in a one-on-one atmosphere. By participating in individual counseling, you may feel more comfortable expressing sensitive or private feelings you have about your illness and its impact on your lifestyle and relationships.
Counseling services can help patients and their families discuss issues of concern and develop and enhance coping abilities. In addition, mental-healthcare providers can create a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Strategies can be designed to help you regain a sense of control over your life and improve your quality of life, something everyone deserves. If necessary, medicine to treat depression may be prescribed.
Support groups are a very useful sharing experience. They provide an environment where you can learn new ways of dealing with your illness.
Sometimes, others who have been through similar experiences can explain things differently than your healthcare providers. You may also want to share approaches you've discovered with them. And you will gain strength in knowing that you are not facing hardships alone.
Remember that others may share information or experiences that do not apply to you. Never replace your physician's advice with that given to another patient.
The American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program offers special help to breast cancer patients. Trained volunteers, who have had breast cancer themselves, visit patients at the doctor's request to lend support. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 for more information.
A financial counselor can answer questions you may have about financial issues related to your medical care.