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Ten tips for talking about cancer with your friends and family.

  1. Be honest. Don't be afraid to tell the people you love how they can help you. Giving them clear guidelines will let them know exactly what you need from them.
  2. As much as we all would love it if people could read our minds — it's never going to happen. Try not to assume that people know what you need or what the right thing to do is. This goes back to the first tip. Tell people how they can help.
  3. If you're not up for visits from caring friends and family, just say that you appreciate the concern but you would much rather see them when you're feeling better.
  4. Everyone deals with crisis in different ways. Some people are just better than others. For those who don't know what to say or do, try to accept their limitations and remember that they do truly care.
  5. There are going to be times when you just want to unload your feelings. Explaining to someone that you don't expect answers or solutions will help them know what you need and help you express yourself freely.
  6. Coping with the magnitude of breast cancer can put a lot of pressure on your relationships and/or reveal long-standing problems like poor communication and lack of trust, problems that are clearly not caused by cancer. Recognizing this may allow you to let go of old behaviors and focus on the here and now.
  7. Even the most thoughtful family and friends may be impatient for you to "get over" your cancer. Try not to let their expectations pressure you into ignoring your feelings. Breast cancer can be a traumatic experience. Remind them that you have to go through it at your own pace, in your own time.
  8. Getting through breast cancer requires immense strength- emotionally and physically. Give yourself permission to explore ways of enhancing your health and self-esteem. If the "old you" would have never tried yoga- don't let that stop you from trying it now.
  9. Don't be afraid to tap into a support network.
  10. Not talking is always an option. You don't have to divulge anything if you don't want to. If friends and family ask you to talk and you're just not up to it, tell them that you appreciate their concern but you're not ready to talk.

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