The following is a guest post from a breast cancer patient who is part of Smart Patients, a free online community where patients and caregivers with common challenges and illnesses can ask questions, get advice and share their experiences in a safe, supportive environment. Woman’s patients and families facing breast cancer, gynecologic cancer, postpartum depression and neonatal intensive care can join.
When you first hear the words “you have breast cancer,” it’s a shock. You always read about other people having cancer, but you assume that it will never be you. Then suddenly the doctor conveys this information and you are wondering if the doctor got it wrong somehow.
After a while, reality sinks in, and you have to cope.
You learn very quickly how much you need support from other people. It was amazing how fast everyone rallied around us. Friends, family and people that we didn’t know took time to send a card or drop by with muffins or flowers, or did something that was very kind and thoughtful. We found that was incredibly empowering.
I can’t imagine how people can go through it alone, without other people helping them. Even if it is just a squeeze of the hand or a smile from someone. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing. Every gesture, no matter how small, is helpful.
I think it’s important to be able to talk about cancer, especially to people who understand what you are going through.
Smart Patients has been an anchor for me during my illness. It also helped me realize how good it feels to give back to other cancer patients. People on Smart Patients reached out to me very willingly. Sharing about my experience with others on Smart Patients is a way for me to return their kindness.
It’s also reassuring to know there are others out there who have been through similar things. It’s interesting to find out how others are coping with side effects.
If you have the opportunity to offer help — even if it’s just typing in a supportive sentence or sharing information about what has happened to you — that’s a very good thing. It has been for me and for the Smart Patients community.
Woman’s patients and their families are encouraged to create a free Smart Patients account here. Once the account is confirmed, participants will have access to information and resources, and will be able to participate in community conversations on topics of interest.