Support is available from a wide range of organisations and health professionals. Get in touch with Cancer Council 13 11 20 and other relevant organisations, or talk to your general practitioner (GP), oncology doctors, breast care nurses and social workers.
Joining a consumer advocacy group can also be rewarding for women who want to use their experience to make a difference for others. For more details, visit Advocacy @ Breast Cancer Network Australia.
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Coming into contact with other people who have had similar experiences to you can be beneficial. You may feel supported and relieved to know that others understand what you are going through and that you are not alone.
People often feel they can speak openly and share tips with others who have gone through a similar experience.
In a support group, you may find that you are comfortable talking about your diagnosis and treatment, relationships with friends and family, and hopes and fears for the future. Some people say they can be even more open and honest in a support setting because they aren’t trying to protect their loved ones.
My family members don’t really understand what it’s like to have cancer thrown at you, but in my support group, I don’t feel like I have to explain.
There are many ways to connect with others for mutual support and to share information. These include:
- face-to-face support groups – often held in community centres or hospitals
- telephone support groups – facilitated by trained counsellors
- peer support programs – match you with someone who has had a similar cancer experience, e.g. Cancer Connect
- online forums – such as Cancer Council Online Community.
Talk to your nurse, social worker or Cancer Council 13 11 20 about what is available in your area.
A/Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and Clinical Associate Professor, University of Sydney, NSW; Jo Cockwill, Consumer;
Suzanne Elliott, Consumer; Bronwyn Flanagan, Breast Care Nurse, Brightways, Cabrini Hospital, VIC; Maina Gordon, Consumer; Gillian Horton, Owner and Corsetry Specialist, Colleen’s Post-Mastectomy Connection, ACT; Kerry Nash, Sales and Marketing Manager, Amoena Australia, NSW; A/Prof Kerry Sherman, Macquarie University and Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, NSW. We are grateful to Amoena Australia Pty Ltd for supplying the breast form images, which appear in this section. The breast reconstruction images have been reproduced with permission from Breast Cancer: Taking Control, breastcancertakingcontrol.com © Boycare Publishing 2010.
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