Once the extent of cancer is known, you, your family, and your doctors need to sit down together and talk about what treatment will work best for you. Make sure you have a supportive team of doctors.
You also will probably find it helpful if you have support at home and at work while you are having treatment. Breast cancer treatment can make you tired and unable to do some, most, or all of your usual activities. But many people are eager to help:
- Community organizations and religious groups often have volunteers who can help you with childcare, meals, or other daily needs.
- Friends and neighbors can help fill your freezer with precooked meals for those days when your energy is low. Or they can pitch in with food shopping, carpooling, or childcare.
- Co-workers are often willing to do more than their share so you can cut back your responsibilities at work. Consider limiting your work hours, if possible. Arrange to do some work from home.
- You can get support from a "cybersister" on the Discussion Boards and in the chat rooms here at Breastcancer.org 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Another excellent place to get support is www.bcmets.org, a website devoted to women with metastatic breast disease.
- Breastcancer.org and 14 other organizations have formed the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance to increase our ability to help patients and improve outcomes for those living with metastatic breast cancer and their families.
"The first time I was diagnosed with cancer, I was in total shock. How could I have breast cancer? But relatively quickly, my husband Jim and I shifted gears. This was going to be a challenge—not a death sentence. And that's how we approached it. I didn't live with the fear that it could come back. I wasn't naive about it. . . .I knew that I had given it my best shot with radiation and chemotherapy, and complementary medicine. And then it came back. That was a heavier blow. The initial part of it was hysteria and tremendous fear. And then, like the first time, we shifted quickly into, 'We can deal with it.' People do live with metastatic disease. After the initial shock, I felt like: 'This is a challenge, I'm not dying, this is a challenge.' "
"You have to open up and let other people help you. The way I was able to do it was to realize that it helps them to help you. So you're actually doing them a favor by letting them help you!"