Breast Cancer Awareness: How a breast cancer diagnosis can affect mental health and how to ask for support

Breast cancer can be one of the most stressful, emotional, and overwhelming times in someone’s life. During your treatment especially, you might feel overloaded by all the emotions you face. It’s hard not to feel powerless. Some amount of depression, anxiety and fear are normal, but too much can start to paralyze you. 

For breast cancer specifically, the changes in appearance and sexuality can intensify a lot of these feelings, especially for young women who might be thinking about having children. For some women, cancer causes menopause, which will only add more stress to a situation where they already feel overburdened. Once the treatments are over, survivors who had double mastectomies have reported feeling a loss of their sense of femininity, which makes it even harder to recover from treatments.

The important thing is to make sure you are connected to as many support networks as possible. Whether that’s your family, church, friends, or even online support groups, having people around to help can make all the difference when it starts to feel overwhelming. Always make sure you have people to talk to and be around when you feel like your mental health is shaken. One of the most overpowering emotions that occur in your cancer journey is a sense of loneliness and isolation. Talking to people won’t make it go away completely, but it can go a long way to help.

Approaching someone you want support from can seem daunting, but keeping in mind a few tips can make it a much more straightforward process:

Identify The Best Person To Ask: When considering who to ask, make sure the person is suited to the task. Keep in mind their capabilities and who the task is most convenient for.

Be Genuine and Honest: Talk in straightforward terms about what you need help with and why. Be honest and authentic about how you’re doing, and the reasons why you need their help.

Make Your Request Specific: Have a specific task or thing you want the other person to do. It’s much harder to agree to vague or unclear commitments versus something more concrete.