In addition to physical symptoms and problems associated with various stages of breast cancer, there are also psychological ones. Some of these issues include distress, loneliness and isolation, reduced self-esteem, anger, grief, relationship problems and changed body image. Women (and men) with a diagnosis of breast cancer can have a range of emotional responses to the diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment. It is important to be supported and it can be helpful to see a psychologist to talk about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Although family members can assist, there can be a lack of understanding of the issues associated with breast cancer. Also, you might feel that you are unable to confide in family and friends because you do not want to upset or “burden” them.
It can be difficult to know what is a “normal” reaction to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and what is not. Regardless, if you feel that you need to talk, then do not hesitate to arrange an appointment to see a psychologist, preferably someone with experience working in the area of breast cancer. Sometimes there are psychologists who work in the hospitals where you are being treated. Ask your treating specialists, doctors and breast care nurses. If there is no psychologist associated with the hospital, your GP can refer you to a psychologist under the Medicare system. You can attend up to 10 sessions of counseling each calendar. Some psychologists offer bulk billing and some charge. Ask the receptionist when you telephone to make an appointment. If there is a psychologist at your treating hospital, there is usually no cost.
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