How Can I Help My Family Cope With My Breast Cancer?

Question: How can I help my family cope with my breast cancer?

Answer: [The] family's response to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer can be quite dramatic. Most clearly, the family is threatened by the loss of a very important member. Roles that have been well-established in the family become disrupted. People have to take on new responsibilities -- perhaps unfamiliar responsibilities. Other members of the family -- either because they're younger or somewhat more distant -- can experience feelings of helplessness and want to help but not have a way to help.

I think one of the most important things you can do for those members of the family is to actually assign people jobs. People want to reach out to you; they want to help you. If you can give them something to do, assign tasks to people -- this will help them work through their fears and also give them the feeling that they're contributing in some way to your treatment and to your progress through these challenges.

Michael Zevon, MDPlay

It's also important to openly express communication in the family, and the relationship between you and your partner is one of the most critical aspects of your ability and your family's ability to manage this stress. Open communication (and) support are all critical, particularly at this time.

Next: Is it possible that my partner is having difficulty dealing with the breast cancer experience, but is coping privately?

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