So many women you know may have had breast cancer — friends and neighbors, coworkers, relatives. It seems as if every time you turn around, breast cancer is being talked about in the newspaper or on TV. You may be fearful of developing breast cancer for the first time or of receiving a diagnosis after a mammogram or other testing. If you’ve had breast cancer, you may be fearful of a possible recurrence or even of the possibility that breast cancer could take your life.
Even though you may have some of these fears, you are not necessarily going to get breast cancer. If you have had breast cancer before, it doesn’t mean that the cancer will recur. Still, it's normal to have concerns about a disease that you hear about and see around you relatively often — and that you may have experienced yourself or through a loved one. Don't let the discussion of fear in this section feed into your own fears. Throughout Breastcancer.org, the information our medical experts provide and the support offered by our community members can help you manage the fears, instead of letting them manage you.
The fear of breast cancer is unlike any other — psychologists and other experts agree on that. The fear can take many different forms, depending upon where you are in the breast cancer experience. Understand that many of your fears are shared by others. While fears are normal, they are uncomfortable to live with. We'll help you figure out how you can manage fear so you can focus on living a happy and healthy life.
On the following pages, you can read more about:
- Common Breast-Cancer-Related Fears
- Stages of Fear After Diagnosis
- 10 Ways to Manage Fear After Diagnosis
"I live with the fear of this disease coming back. Any little pain, any little cough, I worry. I'm constantly checking myself, my breasts. I'm at the red light, in the car, and I'm checking myself. I'm obsessive-compulsive about doing my breast exam? I say to myself, 'I will conquer and overcome,' but it's a struggle for me."
"My mother died of breast cancer when I was five. Whenever I saw friends or relatives diagnosed, it was always like, 'Oh, God. That could be me.' It was always in the back of my mind. I worried about it all the time. It was almost to the point where I was afraid of talking about it at all." —Eileen