Breast cancer is a disease that affects the mammary glands. It is typically diagnosed through routine screening, such as mammograms, although some women find cancerous lumps during breast self-exams. A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying and life-changing. Fortunately, doctors, therapists, and other medical practitioners can provide effective treatments as well as much-needed support for people with this condition. Here are some types of breast cancer support that are available for women who have been diagnosed with this disease:
1. Coordinating Care Teams
People with complex diagnoses, such as those with cancer, often see many specialists over the course of their treatment. It can be difficult for patients to coordinate their own care, especially when they're ill from radiation treatments or chemotherapy. Coordinating care teams help patients get the doctor's appointments they need. A coordinating physician can ensure that none of a patient's medications or treatments will interact with each other. This doctor can also manage a patient's schedule, so invasive procedures and tests are scheduled with enough downtime before the next appointment.
2. Peer Support Groups
Breast cancer can take a toll on a woman's mind as well as her body. It can be difficult for women to find people to relate to since even well-meaning friends, partners, and family members may not have firsthand experience with breast cancer. Peer support groups provide a place for women to discuss their health, diagnosis, and concerns with other people in the same situation. Women can gain hope and insight from hearing about others' experiences with breast cancer. Peer support groups are safe places for cancer patients to discuss the effects their diagnoses have had on their life and relationships.
Talking with peers can help breast cancer patients find a sense of community. However, there is a limit to the help that peers can provide. Some people with cancer develop secondary diagnoses, such as anxiety and depression, as a result of their illness. A psychotherapist is a mental health care professional who is qualified to provide support to people in this situation. A therapist can provide an impartial listening ear, away from the pressures that patients face when talking to friends and family members. Therapists can help patients learn coping mechanisms they can use throughout their cancer treatment and beyond.
For many people, learning that they have breast cancer is the beginning of a long and arduous fight. With the right support, fighting breast cancer can be a little easier. If you're facing breast cancer, you can ask your doctor about resources available to assist women with this disease.