Breast Cancer

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After Treatment TOPICS

Emotional aspects of breast cancer

It is important that your focus on tests and treatments does not prevent you from considering your emotional, psychological, and spiritual health as well. Once your treatment ends, you may find yourself overwhelmed by emotions. This happens to a lot of people. You may have been going through so much during treatment that you could only focus on getting through your treatment.

Now you might find that you think about the possibility of your own death, or the effect of your cancer on your family, friends, and career. You may also begin to re-evaluate your relationship with your spouse or partner. Unexpected issues may also cause concern—for instance, as you become healthier and have fewer doctor visits, you will see your health care team less often. That can be a source of anxiety for some.

This is an ideal time to seek out emotional and social support. You need people you can turn to for strength and comfort. Support can come in many forms: family, friends, cancer support groups, church or spiritual groups, online support communities, or individual counselors.

Almost everyone who has been through cancer can benefit from getting some type of support. What's best for you depends on your situation and personality. Some people feel safe in peer-support groups or education groups. Others would rather talk in an informal setting, such as church. Others may feel more at ease talking one-on-one with a trusted friend or counselor. Whatever your source of strength or comfort, make sure you have a place to go with your concerns.

The cancer journey can feel very lonely. It is not necessary or realistic to go it all by yourself. And your friends and family may feel shut out if you decide not to include them. Let them in—and let in anyone else who you feel might help. If you aren't sure who can help, call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and we can put you in touch with an appropriate group or resource. See Distress in People with Cancer for more information.

In younger women

Some studies suggest that younger women, who represent about 1 out of 4 breast cancer survivors, tend to have more problems adjusting to the stresses of breast cancer and its treatment. They may have more trouble with emotional and social functioning. Some can feel isolated. For some women, chemotherapy may have caused early menopause, which can be very distressing on its own. There may also be sexual difficulties. These issues may be helped with counseling and support groups directed at younger breast cancer survivors.

Last Medical Review: 09/25/2014
Last Revised: 02/22/2016