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Breast cancer: one person affected, several lives affected

On October 9, 2020

When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, not only does it come as a shock to her, but also to her family and friends. Here are some resources to help support your loved one through this difficult time and to take care of your own well-being too.


Breast cancer by the numbers

Every year in Quebec, approximately 6,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,350 women die from this disease.

In most cases, breast cancer develops over many years without the slightest sign, hence the importance of early detection as part of regular medical care. Early screening increases the survival rate and accessibility to the most effective treatments.

The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation outlines the signs and symptoms to watch for on its website. For more information on the signs to observe as well as a full list of the signs, visit the Foundation’s microsite on breast observation (available in French only at this time).

Being a caregiver to a woman with breast cancer

If a woman close to you is diagnosed with breast cancer, you will undoubtedly have many questions and concerns. Many organizations offer specific information for caregivers and tips for supporting your loved one while taking care of yourself, such as the Canadian Cancer Society, Quebec Cancer Foundation, Canadian Breast Cancer Network and Canadian Cancer Survivor Network.

You will also find a self-assessment questionnaire on your own well-being and solutions based on these results on this page of the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network website.

Although every journey is unique, here are some general tips that might help during this difficult time:

  • Be there to listen to your loved one who has breast cancer, let her lead the conservation and decide whether she wants to talk about her cancer.
  • Respect her privacy. Do not force her to elaborate, instead let her share what she wants to about her situation at her own pace.
  • Try to accept what you feel. Taking care of someone can incite many emotions, both positive and negative. You may feel irritable, guilty, discouraged, anxious, impatient, intolerant, etc. These emotions are neither good nor bad; they only mean that you are human.
  • Do not hesitate to express your needs to your loved ones, family, and friends and to enlist their support. Perhaps you will discover some secondary caregivers.
  • The end of treatment does not mean that your loved one no longer needs your support. Continue to be present for her while remaining vigilant about your own well-being.
  • Join an online community or support group for breast cancer to obtain more advice. Support from people who have gone through the same thing can be very helpful.

Join a support community

Talking to and exchanging ideas with other people who are going through or who have been through this experience can help you cope with this situation better. The Canadian Cancer Society offers two resources:

CancerConnection.ca
An online community that helps people with cancer and their loved ones share their experiences and develop a support network.

Peer Support Service (by telephone)
Peer Support Service comprised of volunteers who are trained to support you and share ways of coping with cancer. This free and confidential service is available to anyone diagnosed with cancer or looking after someone diagnosed with cancer.

Other breast cancer resources

Living with Cancer: A guide for people with cancer and their caregivers, Canadian Cancer Society (available in French only at this time)

Cancer: documentation à l’intention des proches aidants. This document from Biblio-Aidants contains a list of organizations that can help you, a selection of relevant websites and some suggested readings (although this document is only available in French, the large majority of the resources listed in it are also available in English by following the link and clicking the language icon on the website in question).

Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is there to support and inform people with cancer as well as their family, friends and caregivers. Their services are free and confidential, and many are offered in multiple languages.
1-888-939-3333

Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation and breast observation microsite.
The keys to fighting breast cancer are breast observation, clinical examination and mammography. The Foundation encourages all women to adopt these three breast health practices.
Support and information for people with breast cancer and their loved ones:
1-877-990-7171, ext. 250
[email protected]

Breastcancer.org is a web portal and online community for people with breast cancer, their family, their friends and health professionals.

If you need support to help you get through this suffering, our caregiver counsellors are available for you seven days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm. To contact us : 1 855 852-7784 or [email protected]