The Importance of Social Support in the Face of Breast Cancer
By: Shannon Plunkett, Spring 2019 Communications + Special Events Intern
Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can be overwhelming, confusing and stressful, but you don’t have to face it alone. If you are a breast cancer patient, survivor, or living with metastatic breast cancer, you can never receive too much social support — assistance and comfort of others who can help you through your journey.
Social support comes in many forms, whether its a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand around the house, or just someone who will listen. It’s so important to seek emotional support so that you can focus your strength towards your physical battle with cancer, rather than your mental one.
In this blog, we will discuss the valuable sources of social support available to you throughout your treatment, and how social support can benefit you and your loved ones.
The most common source of social support during breast cancer treatment is from co-survivors. Co-survivors are those closest to you — including a spouse, children, friends or co-workers — who are there to hold your hand throughout your journey. Leaning on your co-survivors for social support during diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce any feelings of distress or fear, and dramatically improve emotional well-being during a difficult time.
Sometimes loved ones can feel unsure of how to help, and relationships can be easily strained by the whirlwind of emotions, so it is important to communicate to your co-survivors what your emotional support needs are.
There are many other sources of social support in addition to your co-survivors. One-on-one therapy with a counselor provides a great emotional outlet for those who are not as comfortable talking with loved ones.
Studies show that support groups may improve the quality of life for patients, as talking with others about their experiences can be helpful before, during, and after treatments. Some support groups focus on information and education, such as what to expect during treatments. Other groups provide emotional support and advice, and can be a great emotional outlet. Finding the right support group for you can make a difference in your healing process.
Social support can be a source of emotional strength you need during your treatment. It can reduce stress and anxiety, as well as help prevent depression. It can also improve your overall mood and self-image, give you a sense of control, and enhance your quality of life during this time. These benefits can help ease the overall battle with breast cancer for both you and your co-survivors.
There are resources for social support right here in central and southern New Jersey. The Breast Cancer Resource Center, located in Princeton, and Cancer Support Community of Central New Jersey both offer a wide variety of support groups and workshops for patients and their loved ones. Gilda’s Club South Jersey also offers support groups and workshops for anyone who is affected by cancer. Mary’s Place by the Sea is a healing center in Ocean Grove that offers everything from spa treatments and yoga to counseling and a place to stay while undergoing treatments.
All of these resources provide warm and welcoming place to receive social support.
No matter what, you do not have to face breast cancer alone.
Here at Komen CSNJ, we are dedicated to ending breast cancer forever, and we are here for those that need guidance, support and help. Visit our website at komencsnj.org or call us at 608–896–1201 for more information.
If you need help finding social support resources, call our helpline at 1-877-GO-KOMEN (1-877-465–6636).