As with any major illness, breast cancer can have far-reaching effects beyond the person who is diagnosed. Spouses and partners, family members and other loved ones (often called co-survivors) may feel many of the same emotions as the person diagnosed: shock, sadness, fear, anger and denial.Co-survivors can be strong sources of support throughout diagnosis, treatment and recovery. At the same time, loved ones (especially spouses, partners and children) may need social support themselves to help get through the experience.
Along with the many issues related to caring for a loved one with breast cancer come other difficult relationship issues of loss, need, control, sexuality and altered body image. Support - both formal and informal - can help spouses and partners work through these issues.Below are some organizations that offer support groups for spouses and partners of cancer survivors.
After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) Offers support programs (online and telephone) for co-survivors. 1-800-977-4121 http://www.abcdbreastcancersupport.org American Cancer Society's "I Can Cope" Offers support programs (in-person, online and telephone) for co-survivors. 1-800-227-2345 www.cancer.org Cancer Support Community (formerly Gilda’s Club Worldwide and The Wellness Community) Offers support programs (in-person, online and telephone) for co-survivors. 1-888-793-9355 www.cancersupportcommunity.org CaringBridgeOffers personal, protected sites with multiple privacy settings where people can stay connected during any type of health event. Their Planner helps family and friends coordinate care and helpful tasks. www.caringbridge.org Mautner Project of Whitman-Walker Health Offers support programs (online and telephone) for lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals living with cancer and their partners. www.whitman-walker.org/mautnerprojectMy Cancer Circle Offers an online tool for co-survivors to coordinate support activities (such as preparing meals and giving rides to treatment). www.mycancercircle.net Well Spouse Foundation Offers support services to spouses and partners of people living with breast cancer (or with other chronic illness) through letter writing, conferences and support groups. 1-800-838-0879 www.wellspouse.org
Komen Support Resources
Children may have strong emotional responses to a parent's breast cancer diagnosis. Keep in mind that children need to :
Some children may benefit from a support group for children who have a parent with cancer. To find such a support group, call our breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or contact your local cancer center, American Cancer Society (1-800-ACS-2345) or Cancer Support Community (1-888-445-3248). Camp Kesem offers summer camps in many states for children with a parent who has or has had cancer.
Facts for Life: Talking with Your Partner
What’s Happening to the Woman I Love?
Co-Survivors: How to Help Those You Care about Cope with Breast Cancer
Facts for Life: Talking with Your Children
Facts for Life: What’s Happening to Mom?
1-877 GO KOMEN(1-877-465-6636)