Stages of Fear After Diagnosis

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Most people go through several stages of fear when they are first diagnosed. The stages, and the order in which they happen, are very similar in most people:

  • You just can't believe what you've heard and completely deny it.
  • You get angry at the doctor who told you and anyone else, such as a lab technician or nurse, who read a result to you.
  • You appeal to a higher power and ask over and over, “Why did this happen to me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?”
  • You feel resigned, as if there’s nothing you can do to help yourself.
  • You accept the truth, hard as it may be, and decide to fight with everything you’ve got in you.

A big part of the fear of breast cancer diagnosis is all the uncertainty and the feeling that you’ve lost control of your life — being swept away on an uncharted journey that you don’t want to take. It’s hard to imagine how anything good could happen on this particular trip.

It turns out that this isn’t necessarily so. While no one wants to be diagnosed with breast cancer, many people in treatment or finished with treatment say that the experience made them stronger and helped them to become closer to their families and friends and learn more about themselves. Being diagnosed is never easy, but once you start the process of getting the best available doctors, the best information, and the best support you can from those who love you, you are in good hands.

Personal Quote

"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

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