What to do when ready for a breakdown?

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Question from MarshaB: I have mets to my liver and bones, and because most of the time I look great, people assume I am great when really I feel like crap and am tired. When they say, "Wow, you look so normal," it is so hard to not break down and cry and yell at them. What can I do?
Answers - Larry Norton, M.D. Basically Marsha, you need somebody to talk to about your own individual psychological situation and relationship to this illness. I think you need some individual counseling — not because you're ill or you're doing things wrong, but you need coping skills. I hear stories about people who are trying to be nice, but say or do inappropriate things. Often, this means individual counseling so you need a friendly ear to talk to so psychologically you can do as well as you seem to be doing physically.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. Often people will take their cue from you. So if you are looking glamorous, strong, and courageous, people will want to assume that you are everything that you seem plus more. These people probably depend on you in many different ways, particularly family members. Dealing with expectations — your own, as well as others’ — is one of the challenges of living with metastatic breast cancer. It takes a lot of work to let yourself and others know what they can expect from you and also what you may need in terms of private time, extra rest, extra nourishment, and time alone as well as time with others. You may need to let people know how you want to manage this. Ideas from a therapist, as well as others in our discussion boards can be quite helpful in this situation.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer featured Larry Norton, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about managing day-to-day life with metastatic breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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