Advertisement

Breast Cancer Often Leads to Personal Growth

Breast Cancer Often Leads to Personal Growth

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.

Stay strong and healthy after a breast cancer diagnosis.

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. (Find out where residents have the strongest social networks.) 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.

Medically reviewed in October 2019.

Reducing Your Risk for Heart Attack After Breast Cancer
Reducing Your Risk for Heart Attack After Breast Cancer
Women in the U.S. who have survived breast cancer—the American Cancer Society estimates 90 percent of breast cancer patients are alive five years afte...
Read More
What is invasive mammary carcinoma (IMC)?
Dr. Amanda J. Morehouse, MDDr. Amanda J. Morehouse, MD
Invasive mammary carcinoma (IMC) is breast cancer that can travel outside the breast. Carcinoma is t...
More Answers
4 Habits to Keep Your Breasts Healthy
4 Habits to Keep Your Breasts Healthy4 Habits to Keep Your Breasts Healthy4 Habits to Keep Your Breasts Healthy4 Habits to Keep Your Breasts Healthy
Simple things like regular exercise can protect your breasts.
Start Slideshow
Cancer Survivor: Jennifer's Story
Cancer Survivor: Jennifer's Story