Breast Cancer Often Leads to Personal Growth

Women embracing after finishing breast cancer awareness race

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a major life challenge. It’s normal (and expected) to feel fear, anger and resentment. But surprisingly, research shows it can also be a time of great personal growth. Psychologists call the concept “post-traumatic growth,” where a traumatic incident (in this case breast cancer diagnosis) can actually cause positive psychological changes in a person.

Researchers asked 653 breast cancer patients (mostly stage 1 or stage 2) questions to gauge their feelings about personal relationships, changes in spirituality and openness to new possibilities a year or so after their diagnosis. Despite the fact that a breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating, a majority of women reported going through a personal growth experience during that time period. That included anything from have stronger relationships with family and friends to a greater appreciation for life. And it wasn’t just women who were optimistic or had a sunny disposition. Researchers found that women who said their social support increased after their diagnosis tended to show more post-traumatic growth. The study was published in the journal Psycho-Oncology.

Thinking of getting a preventive mastectomy? Know the pros and cons.

Why you need support

When confronted with a diagnosis of breast cancer, your initial thought may be that you’re in this battle alone. Truth is, you’re not, and this study illustrates how much a strong support system can help you in your fight. Support can come in many different forms: friends, family, support groups, church or spiritual groups, online communities and even individual counselors. If you aren’t sure who can help, call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and a representative will put you in touch with an appropriate group or resource.

More On

How can I lower my risk of breast cancer?

video

How can I lower my risk of breast cancer?
Maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise can lower your risk for breast cancer. Laura Esserman, MD, director of the Carol Franc Buck ...
What to Do After a Loved One is Diagnosed With MBC

article

What to Do After a Loved One is Diagnosed With MBC
A look at diagnostic tests, reasons to get a second opinion, and why you need copies of the test results.
8 Things Your Breast Cancer Surgeon Wishes You Knew

slideshow

8 Things Your Breast Cancer Surgeon Wishes You Knew
Your deodorant isn't a cause, you can control some risk factors and that's just for starters.
Katie Couric talks about the importance of detecting breast cancer early

video

Katie Couric talks about the importance of detecting breast cancer early
Couric revealed her breast cancer diagnosis a little over one year ago.
Breast cancer survivor Tracy discusses her diagnosis & experience with a bilateral mastectomy

video

Breast cancer survivor Tracy discusses her diagnosis & experience with a bilateral mastectomy
Tracy talks about why she chose to have a bilateral mastectomy when she was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer and why she hid this information from...