The moment a person is diagnosed with cancer can elicit a variety of emotions. Fear of what’s to come is a common reaction to such a diagnosis, and some people may feel alone upon learning they have cancer. But no cancer patient should face their diagnosis and treatment alone. In fact, a strong support network can be vital to patients’ recoveries.

According to the Breast Cancer Network of WNY, recent changes in the healthcare industry have shifted the burden of care from the hospital to the home. That underscores the importance of a strong support network. Many of the challenges cancer patients face in the months after diagnosis will be new, and patients can expect a range of emotions. Women may experience emotions such as shock, anger, disbelief, anxiety, and sadness after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Having loved ones there to help them make sense of those emotions and stay positive as they navigate their way through the treatment process is essential.

In addition to providing emotional support, loved ones of breast cancer patients may need to take on additional roles as they help their friends or family members face the challenges that lay ahead to take on various roles that are vital to cancer patients’ survival.

  • Monitor the disease: Support networks may need to keep track of how their loved ones’ disease is progressing and if there are any complications from treatment.
  • Manage symptoms: Treatment causes severe side effects in many women. Such side effects may include nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, pain, arm swelling, shortness of breath, and skin irritation. Thankfully, most of these side effects can be treated. In addition, most side effects ease up after treatment is completed. In the meantime, support networks may need to help patients manage those symptoms, performing a host of tasks to make their loved ones’ lives easier. For example, patients experiencing shortness of breath may be incapable of performing chores around the house. In such instances, members of a support network can tackle those chores until their loved one bounces back.
  • Administer medication: Breast cancer patients may be too overwhelmed to handle their own medications, so support networks can take over this important responsibility for them.
  • Assist with personal care: Some patients may experience fatigue after treatment. In such instances, support networks can help patients maintain their personal hygiene.

Support networks can be vital to helping cancer patients overcome their disease and navigate their way through successful treatment regimens.

Locally, the Breast Cancer Network of WNY offers support, education, and advocacy for individuals with breast cancer, breast cancer survivors and family and friend co-survivors. We are dedicated to ending breast cancer and the deaths it causes. See for ongoing classes, programs, support groups, and more, or call 716-706-0060.

Other local and national breast cancer support groups