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When you are diagnosed with breast cancer
What do women feel when they are just diagnosed with breast cancer? “It’s like a thunderstorm in my heart”, “I can’t help tears running out from my eyes”, “My mind’s just blank”, “No! I can’t believe. It’s impossible”, ……
When people are faced with a traumatic situation, they will experience various stages of intense emotions. It is natural and common but not everyone go through these stages at the same pace or same time.
Ten possible emotional stages of women with breast cancer:
- Denial – “It’s not true! There must be something wrong with the report. I want to see another doctor.” Just until they get the same result, just until they get the same answer, it might not be true. We really hope that it won't be true.
- Anger – You feel angry with yourself and even someone you think they are responsible for. It is understandable that you might feel miserable and guilty. Remember! It’s not your fault to get illness.
- Fear – You wake up in the midnight crying for God, feeling stomachache because the fear hits you. Terrified, paralyzed, and convinced, you are going to die.
- Depression – You feel numb and hopeless for some time. It’s common for women with breast cancer to feel depressed. If you find yourself trapped in depression, not feeling like talking, losing appetite and some weight, waking up suddenly in the early morning, please look for a counselor who can help you cope with stress and depression.
- Information addiction – You may spend whole day and night looking up information about breast cancer from books and websites. You become more calm and rational and believe information can help you reduce misunderstanding. This happens when you have saturated information and you can't possibly hold any more data in your head.
- Fear of baldness -- Once your treatment starts, you become obsessed by the hair thing. You may check any hair dropping on your pillow straightaway when getting up. It may be the most fearful thing in you being baldness.
- Everything is just going fine
When you are used to dealing with the disease, changing your eating habit and lifestyle, you are done with chemo, doing radiation and YOUR HAIR STARTS TO GROW BACK! This alone is the biggest, most exciting thing to happen in your life.
- You've survived!
Finally you have completed all the treatment. You are suddenly on your own. Your family and friends assume you're fine. And you may be fear of loneliness. Don't panic! We all feel the same way.
- I'm a survivor, now how do I live my life
After a year of battle, you will feel better and celebrate your one year anniversary. Perhaps you will start thinking about joining a volunteer group or going out for a trip, going back to work or quitting the job.
- The fear is still there
The fear never really goes away. You may still think about it sometimes but not so much and less and less. And then a report about breast cancer on a newspaper, or someone new is diagnosed, and the fear pops up and jumps up and down. Although you’ll never forget you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and experienced a tough journey of treatment, those memories could help you alert you to take good care of yourself and to live healthily and differently.
You don’t need to fight unpleasant thoughts or feelings by yourself. Talking to your partner, family, friends, support group and doctor, you may be able to find ways of releasing anxiety and tension. It is a very unique life process of women diagnosed with breast cancer. You will find a new start in life during and after fighting this battle. Remember you will never be alone. HKBCF is always here to listen, to help and to go through the journey with you.