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Coping with secondary breast cancer

Men and women discussing breast cancer

This page contains information about coping with secondary breast cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Who can help with secondary breast cancer

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer, both practically and emotionally. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or you may think that things are out of your control.

How secondary breast cancer can affect you physically

The cancer and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. You may have to cope with feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially if you are having treatment. 

If you are having a sexual relationship, the physical changes may affect your sex life.

Coping practically

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of secondary brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. It is important to remember that you don't have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. 

Your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help. They can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting people with cancer. These people want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.

Our coping with cancer section has lots of helpful information. And there are many organisations that can help.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Secondary breast cancer section.

 

 

Coping with your diagnosis

It can be very difficult to cope with a diagnosis of secondary cancer, both practically and emotionally. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or you may feel that things are out of your control. You might find it helpful to look at the page about your feelings and secondary breast cancer

It is very important to get the right information about your type of cancer and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens. Your doctor or breast care nurse can give you information.

 

How secondary breast cancer can affect you physically

The cancer and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body, such as weight loss or weight gain. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Such changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends. 

Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially if you are having treatment. We have helpful information about tiredness and cancer and treating tiredness (fatigue).

It can help to talk to family and friends about these changes and how they are affecting you. Contacting a support group and speaking to women in a similar situation may also be helpful. 

If you are having a sexual relationship, the physical changes may affect your sex life. You can read about how to cope with changes in your sex life.

 

Coping practically

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of secondary brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants. As well as possibly qualifying for some state benefits, such as sick pay, you may be able to get a grant for any major expense due to your illness. You may be able to get help from Macmillan Cancer Support. They offer grants for one off expenses for people with cancer.

Who do you tell that you have secondary cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. We have information about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children.

You don't have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. It is likely that your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help. They can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting people with cancer. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So do contact them if you feel you need to.

 

Getting information and support

On this website we have lots of helpful information. You can read about 

You can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

You can also contact one of the organisations on our breast cancer organisations page. They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. There is also a page of books and breast cancer resources.

You can also find details of counselling organisations. They can tell you about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

If you want to find people to share experiences with on line, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

 

Information about death and dying

You may want to look at the section about dying with cancer. It has helpful information about practical issues you might want to consider as the cancer becomes more advanced. It also discuses the emotional and physical changes you may have. Other members of your family may also want to read it so that they can support you.

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Updated: 11 August 2014