- Question from Dee: I find that I don't want to tell people about my breast cancer history or be involved with support groups or cancer fund raisers anymore—like I want a new 'identity' after being so involved with it for so long. Is this normal? Is it healthy?
- Answers - Gwen Darien I think it's a perfectly reasonable response. I think that no response is right or wrong; it is how you feel and respond to it. Some women find it very helpful and healing and important to be a part of an ongoing breast cancer survivor community, and some women don't want to talk about it. It is all personal choice and there is no right or wrong way to respond to it. You should not feel pressured to do fundraising or anything else. There are some women who reject the term 'survivor' and many women who don't want to talk about it. There is so much talk in the media about breast cancer that I hope women don't feel pressured to come out and talk about their experiences if it doesn't feel right to them.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Few of us live on our own or all alone, but a lot of us are connected to other people who are about us, which is great and absolutely necessary. It does happen, though, that within a family for example, some people want to talk about it and other people don't want to talk about it. If you decide not to talk about it ever again and your children still need to process it further, you might need to work out some sort of compromise because everyone has different needs here. They are all important and need to be respected or addressed in some way by someone. It may not be you who chooses to handle them, but differences in how people handle tough questions can make people feel isolated. Sometimes you do have to talk about these things that feel very uncomfortable.
- Gwen Darien I think Dr. Weiss has a very important point, but I also think it is important to differentiate between public discussion and discussion within the family.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Sure.
- Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S. And there are times that women may want to take a vacation from public involvement with breast cancer initiatives to re-group for themselves, and may decide at a later time to engage in breast cancer activities out of their home.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Tackling Fear featured Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S., Marisa Weiss, M.D. and moderator Gwen Darien, Editor-in-Chief, MAMM Magazine, answering your questions about how to manage breast cancer fears.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2001.
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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