A Girlfriends' Guide to Breast Cancer

For women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, it is often the advice from their girlfriends, rather than their doctors, which means the most.

On "The Girlfriend's Guide to Breast Cancer," six women from ABC News sat down to dish advice and share experiences about their personal battles with cancer — from how to position a wig correctly, to the importance of choosing a doctor you are comfortable with.

The first subject the women discussed was arguably one of the most difficult challenges they faced: how they told their families, friends and co-workers they had cancer.

For Robin Roberts, co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America," and Cokie Roberts, an ABC News political commentator and senior news analyst at National Public Radio, their roles in the public spotlight made it difficult to keep their diagnoses private.

"I really didn't want to tell my mother," said Cokie, who worried about her mother's reaction after having already lost one daughter to melanoma. "I thought I could get away without telling her, but then, I see it on the crawl on CNN, and I'm thinking, 'Thank God I told my mother.'"

When Robin announced she had breast cancer on "Good Morning America," the story that ran on ABCNews.com received thousands of comments from supportive fans.

Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent recruitment and business affairs, said that she managed to tell her mother without once mentioning the word "cancer." And when it came to telling co-workers, slowly was the best method for her.

"I did it a little bit at a time," said Entelis. "I told someone new at work every three days."

All the women agreed that as anxious as they were about opening up about their cancer, having supportive friends and family made all the difference.

"I didn't want everyone wondering — I wanted to get it out there," said Fiona Conway, executive director of ABC NewsOne, who said she told her co-workers via e-mail. "It was good to get it out there and talk about it."

"I tangibly felt the prayers," said Robin. "I slept like a baby the night I told everyone on 'Good Morning America.'"

The Girlfriends Swap Cancer Tips

Robin, who just started chemotherapy, declared herself a cancer "newbie," and was eager to hear advice from the other women. She even joked she was "taking notes" during the discussion.

Most of the women agreed that as hesitant as they were initially, shaving their heads ended up being the best way to deal with the hair loss.

Entelis added that she wished more people would have told her how lopsided her wig was.

"Here's a tip on the wig," said Entelis. "I put it on and went to work, and it was a little askew. So, girlfriends, I think that's a place to be helpful and say, 'If you moved it a little one way, it would look better.' It takes awhile to get it to look right."

Cokie added that losing her hair wasn't all bad — she thought her new head of hair was actually nicer than her original hair.

"The best thing you can be told is that you look beautiful," remarked Laura Marquez, a correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. "It's better to have a bad hair day than a no hair day."

The right bra was key for Jessica Guff, executive producer of ABC News NOW, who advised that a comfortable bra was essential for surgery.

"You should have a bra with no underwire, and a front clip," said Guff, who said she spent the night before her surgery scouring stores for a comfortable bra. "I eventually found it at the gift shop at the hospital."

Other advice shared by the women included sucking on hard candy to treat mouth sores, maintaining a good sense of humor, and staying hydrated.

The Web Can Be Scary, But Helpful

Each of the women admitted to scouring the Internet in the days following their diagnoses, but agreed that visiting chat rooms can be more scary than helpful.

"There's a lot of stuff out there that doesn't apply to you, and you always think the worst possible things are going to happen," said Entelis. "Stay away from the personal stories, and focus on your own situation."

For more information on breast cancer, visit ABCNews.com's special section "OnCall+ Breast Cancer Center."

To see our "Girlfriend's Guide to Breast Cancer," and hear from the women of ABC News, watch "Good Morning America Now" on ABC News Now, our 24-hour news channel. Go to the ABC News Now page of our Web site to find out how. You can also see the full segment on ABCNews.com

If you'd like to purchase a DVD of the "Girlfriend's Guide to Breast Cancer" special, CLICK HERE.

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