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  • Sources of Support for Family and Loved Ones


    Co-Survivors: How to Help Those You Care about Cope
    with Breast Cancer


    Talking with Your Partner
    Fact Sheet


    Talking with Your Children
    Fact Sheet 


    For Friends & Family 

    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.    

    Support for spouses and partners  


    Talking with Your Partner
    Fact Sheet


    What’s Happening to the Woman I Love? – Couples coping
    with breast cancer


    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.

    American Cancer Society's "I Can Cope"
    Offers support programs (in-person, online and telephone) for co-survivors.

    Cancer Support Community (formerly Gilda’s Club Worldwide and The Wellness Community)
    Offers support programs (in-person, online and telephone) for co-survivors.

    Offers 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.  

    Mautner Project of Whitman-Walker Health
    Offers support programs (online and telephone) for lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals living with cancer and their partners.

    My Cancer Circle
    Offers an online tool for co-survivors to coordinate support activities (such as preparing meals and giving rides to treatment).

    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.


    Komen Support Resources 



    Support for children


    Talking with Your Children 
    Fact Sheet

      What’s Happening to Mom? – Talking to your children
    about breast cancer


    Children may have strong emotional responses to a parent's breast cancer diagnosis. Keep in mind that children need to [1]:

    • Be told about the diagnosis in a way that is suited to their age and state of mind. If they are not told by an adult, children may fill in the gaps with their imagination.
    • Be involved in family discussions and decision-making related to a parent's breast cancer.
    • Feel comfortable asking questions about breast cancer.
    • Be watched for signs of emotional distress, both at home and at school. 

     Shannon and Family - color photo 

    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.

    Updated 04/03/14


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