Breast Cancer’s Relationship Toll

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For many women, the diagnosis of breast cancer that increases the emotionality in regard to all your breast cancer can be the catalyst that turns casual friendships into deep and meaningful bonds, that brings couples closer, that helps the family unit become stronger and more cohesive.

For others, however, it can be a lonely and isolating time — a period of life when people we counted on most seem to all but disappear.

So what is it that determines how breast cancer will affect you and the people in your life? Experts say it’s often linked to a willingness to let others share your burden, something that doesn’t come easy for many women.

“Women are the caregivers. We are used to taking care of everyone else, so it can be a huge emotional struggle to give up some of that control and let people in. Even with illness, women still want to handle everything on their own,” says Gloria Nelson, LSCW, senior oncology social worker at the Montefiore/Einstein breasts with their sexuality and their femininity in a way that is not typical of any other cancer,” says Nelson. As a result, she says, any type of chemotherapy session, ask a friend to bring over dinner or even take your kids out for a bite to eat while you rest.

Finally, experts say, don’t be disappointed if not everyone in your life steps up to help, even when you ask. It doesn’t mean they don’t care.

“Everyone reacts to, and copes with, crisis in a different way. And very often, you don’t find who can’t handle things until the crisis occurs,” says Puckett.

If this is the case, don’t despair. Experts say the key is to recognize the role each person can play in your life. And if you need more help, don’t be afraid to turn to a professional or a support group for the rest.

Says Puckett, “From counselors and social workers at your treatment center, to online communities, to chat rooms, to local support groups, to various cancer organizations, don’t overlook the incredible communities of people who will open their hearts — if you let them.”