Talking about Breast Cancer

As a teenager, you’ve got a lot on your plate — balancing friends, school, your family, extra curricular activities, etc. So what do you do if you get news that turns everything upside-down?

How do you deal ‘with it’? How can
you help? What’s available to help you? Answering these questions is not an easy task. It’s often hard to know where to turn or who to turn to. First ask yourself:

How do I feel?

  • Afraid  
  • Angry
  • Nervous
  • Sad
  • Helpless
  • Overwhelmed
  • Confused

It’s normal to feel a variety of different emotions. Some of these feelings might be because you don’t know very
much about breast cancer. That’s ok.
Find resources that can help answer some of your questions. Visit your school or local library. You can also surf the net; however, remember to be selective about what sites you visit.
Being informed may help sort out your feelings or figure out other questions you want to ask to help make sense of what’s really going on.

It’s understandable that the first thing you may want to do is withdraw rather than engage the person with breast cancer, especially if it’s a parent. This is normal. You are facing a very difficult situation. Take the time you need.

When you’re ready to try and open up the lines of communication, here are helpful hints for starting the conversation. By doing so you will gain further under-standing for yourself and the situation.

  • Make eye contact
  • Listen and allow them to tell their story. You are giving them an outlet to share their emotions and information that could help you learn more about their situation.
  • Don’t be scared to ask questions or for clarification.
  • Understand there may be sadness and tears.
  • It’s understandable that you might want to withdraw at different times throughout. It’s OK; you’re not expected to solve the problem or have the ‘right’ answers.
  • Not knowing what to say is OK. Sometimes just holding hands or giving a hug will provide comfort.
  • Challenge the myth that you have to be positive all the time. Keeping feelings in can often lead to them bubbling over or crashing. This can make an already challenging situation even harder.
  • Laughing or crying together is OK.  Sometimes they happen at the same time.
  • Remember, it’s not your responsibility to fix it. Doing your best to listen and understand will help make the journey that much easier for                      everyone involved.

These tools are universal for coping with any challenging situation.  Even if you can’t use them today, they could come in handy in the
future and are not age specific, so share them with others you know!  You never know who you might be helping.

Further, if you or anyone you know needs support or help from someone who’s been there, someone who understands first hand the challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, call Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada at 1.888.778.3100

There are also a variety of people you can speak to. Talk about your thoughts, feelings and fears with a close friend, family member, teacher, coach or even someone who has had breast cancer.

Some Helpful Sites:

The Young Survival Coalition

Canadian Breast Cancer Network

Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada

Written by Willow Breast Cancer
Support Canada Support Staff.