Breast Cancer in women

How it affects others

Although some women talked about their illness only with family, many others discussed their diagnosis with people outside the family, including friends, colleagues and neighbours. While it was often difficult telling other people they had cancer, women praised the support and practical help they received from others.

Friends often offered support and encouragement, and many women found it helpful to talk with other people. Some women explained how discussing their experiences of breast cancer also raised awareness of the disease. Several described how they broke the news of their diagnosis to friends, and one woman described how, on hearing about her illness, her church group visited her at home. A few women also discussed the help and support neighbours had given.

Several women, however, felt that some people, including friends, reacted with excessive shock, as if a cancer diagnosis meant terminal illness, and that their attitude towards them changed. A few felt that friends found the news of their diagnosis difficult to cope with, though other people were unexpectedly supportive.

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Many women explained that, on learning about their diagnosis, colleagues were helpful and understanding. Some women said they told colleagues themselves about their cancer while others preferred someone else, such as a manager, to relate the news. Women also discussed the support they received from other patients, some of whom became good friends (see 'Support groups').

Last reviewed May 2015.
Last updated June 2010.

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