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Finding Support When Living with Advanced Breast Cancer

Receiving a diagnosis and living with advanced breast cancer is both physically and emotionally stressful. Studies have found that almost one-third of those with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) have signs of a depressive disorder and 6% have signs of anxiety. In addition, MBC can bring up existential distress and loneliness, as women face a heightened awareness of how short life can be as well as an increased sense of searching for meaning.1

Support from family and friends

Those closest to you – your family and friends – may be a wonderful source of support. Some family members or friends may naturally reach out and offer their time and a listening ear. You may need to ask others for what you need, such as for them to listen without providing advice or for someone to talk to you about life beyond breast cancer and its treatment.

In some cases, people don’t find their family and friends to be supportive of their emotional needs and may need to reach out to other sources of support. Even those with supportive family and friends may also find it helpful to connect with others who are also dealing with advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Online support

Online communities can be a great source of comfort and support, especially for those in areas where they can’t find others who are going through similar things. Online support communities provide a place where you can share your fears, give and get support from others, and express things that you might not feel comfortable sharing in person.

Finding a support group

Many people find that meeting in person with a support group provides emotional support. Local chapters of the American Cancer Society, hospitals, religious organizations, or community centers may have cancer support groups. In larger cities, there may be a specific metastatic breast cancer group, while other communities may bring together people with all types of metastatic cancer or various stages of different types of cancer.

Asking for professional help

Getting professional help through a counselor or therapist can provide emotional support and additional tools for handling the stresses of living with advanced breast cancer. Ask your doctor or hospital for a referral to a mental health specialist, or check with your insurance to see who is available on your plan.

Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: December 2018.
  1. Mosher CE, Johnson C, Dickler M, Norton L, Massie MJ, DuHamel K. Living with metastatic breast cancer: a qualitative analysis of physical, psychological, and social sequelae. Breast J. 2013; 19(3): 285–292. doi:10.1111/tbj.12107.