Whatever the emotions that come up after you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, experts recommend that you don't ignore them.
Talking to friends, family members, and/or other women who've had breast cancer can be therapeutic, as long as you're clear that the details of someone else's diagnosis and treatment may be very different from yours. "When friends tell you 'I did this' or 'My mother's doctor recommended that,' it may not apply to you," cautions Robin Hershkowitz, program director for women's cancers at CancerCare, a national nonprofit support services organization based in New York City. "The best thing is to keep asking your doctor, 'Why is that a good option for me? Why is that a good plan?' You need to be as comfortable as you can with it."
Support groups can be great for helping you work through your feelings about the diagnosis. Some are in-person sessions led by psychologists and social workers, while others are online or by phone.
The Web has some obvious benefits. "When you're doing things online, you're anonymous," says Aurora, Ill., resident Connie Harrington, 39, who likes breastcancer.org's Web forums. "I might feel more awkward walking into a support group for the first time in person, but online everyone's so friendly. You can join different groups for, say, people going through chemo at the same time, or post, 'Anyone entering chemo in March?' and people join in."
For support, contact the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program (800-227-2345); CancerCare (800-813-HOPE); or Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization (800-221-2141).