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Living with Breast Cancer

Practical Issues

Breast cancer affects much more than your health.  It can affect other aspects of your life and your family’s life.  This section contains some helpful advice on such practical issues as sharing your diagnosis, exercise, nutrition, sexuality, returning to work and care for the caregiver.


Sharing Your Diagnosis with Family and Friends

Telling family and friends that you have breast cancer may be just as difficult as hearing the diagnosis from your doctor for the first time.  You may be concerned about upsetting your loved ones. Also, sharing this news can make it all the more real for you.

It’s important to take a few minutes to think about what you want to say to each person and how to say it.  Do you tell everyone at the same time or one-on-one?  Do you pass on the news in person, by phone, by email, or by social media?  How much or how little information do you want to divulge?  You are the one in the driver’s seat and it’s up to you to decide.

Your spouse or partner is probably the first person you will want to tell about your diagnosis. He or she will likely be your main support, and it’s important to open the lines of communication about what kind of support you will need.  Perhaps you partner can take on more household duties, or accompany you to medical appointments, or communicate with family and friends about your progress and solicit their help.

Be prepared for both helpful and unhelpful reactions from family and friends.  Many people will ask how they can help, so make a list of requests such as a few hours of childcare, a home-cooked meal, or transportation to medical appointments.  Others may say or do the wrong thing, not because they are unkind, but simply because they do not know how to respond.  They may tell the story of someone else who had cancer, or look for reasons why you got breast cancer, such as diet, exercise, or lifestyle factors. The key is not to take this personally, but instead to focus on those people who can give you the support that you need.

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