Receiving a new breast cancer diagnosis can feel scary, but you’re not alone.

Share on Pinterest
Getty Images

When you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, it can feel like your entire world has been flipped upside down; like the vision you had for your future has been disrupted. It may take a long time to even process the news.

It can also feel isolating to receive a diagnosis when it seems like no one around you understands what you’re going through. But as you face the many unknowns of a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s important to remember that you’re far from alone.

About 13 percent (or 1 in 8) women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at some point in their life.

Understandably, just hearing that many others have been in your shoes may not make you feel much better. However, it can be incredibly impactful to find a community of people who understand what you’re going through.

Connecting with others who are also navigating life with breast cancer can help you feel less alone.

Members of the BC Healthline community understand what it’s like to face a new breast cancer diagnosis because they have been there, too. Seven community members shared what they would tell someone recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When I am at the doctor, I often forget what I want to ask and sometimes cannot make sense of the explanations. I sometimes also audio record the session and write down questions I want answered beforehand.

It can be helpful to bring a person close to you to appointments so that they can help ask questions, or even take notes for you.

Make sure you ask for details, and don’t rule out anything. Take your time at each appointment. Soon you will become your own best advocate.” — Connie

“I thought by pushing all of the testing and surgeries along, I could put cancer behind me faster and move on with my life.

I probably should have slowed down and asked how long do I have to make a decision so that I could gather more opinions. I should have asked how my life would be different after treatment was complete.” — BSJ

“Breast cancer can be rough on the self-esteem. My advice would be to try and do things that make you feel good during treatment. It can be doing your makeup, having your nails painted, or just wearing a shirt you like. Something that makes you feel good can help a lot.

There were many days I felt ugly when I looked into the mirror, and the next day I would wear fancy earrings or something cute and it made me feel happier and other people noticed.

They didn’t know what was going on underneath or on the inside… they liked the earrings just as much as I did.” — A. Huggins

“The beginning right after diagnosis is the worst. It will start to feel easier when you have more information and a plan.

It’s not a journey any of us would choose, but it’s amazing to learn how many people have walked in your shoes. So many people contacted me to let me know that they had been through it, too.

Once you learn more, you will be ready for the fight. Stay strong.” — Gma25

​”My advice to anyone confronted with a breast cancer diagnosis is to try and find a breast cancer treatment center to do all your care in.

I had endometrial cancer as well as breast cancer at the same time, and my care has been extremely fractured. I have four different patient portals and there was no way to connect the dots. I had no support system between treatments and no one to answer my questions. It was very challenging. I would ask about a nurse navigator.

It’s interesting how much you learn from the knowledge and experience of others. BC Healthline often provides direction for me when I feel like I have absolutely no idea what is going on.” — Jules10

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of this year. I had my yearly mammograms, but the lump was not picked up on a mammogram. I couldn’t feel the lump either.

My breast started physically changing, but because no one wants to “go looking” for cancer, I ignored it. I thought it was hormonal changes or as my gynecologist said, it “could be from weight gain.”

My advice to all women: Get your mammograms and please be proactive in your own health. When you know something doesn’t even look right, investigate.” — Kim115

“Most of us are blindsided when we are diagnosed. Figuring out what questions to ask can feel like asking questions in calculus but never learning algebra, so to speak.

However, I believe it’s important to know that a breast cancer diagnosis is like a marathon, not a sprint. Parts are very difficult and parts are pretty easy, it’s different for each and every one of us. No amount of information is going to completely change that.

I do believe whatever your journey is on this unwanted path, it is all doable, and our life is our greatest reward for traveling here. Listen to the small voice when decisions have to be made, it will be honest and direct your own special path.” — Ellen Hunter

Navigating a new diagnosis of breast cancer can be scary. It can make you feel uprooted, confused, overwhelmed, or even angry.

It’s important to know that any emotions you’re feeling are entirely valid. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to face these emotions alone.

The BC Healthline community is here to support you at every stage of navigating life with breast cancer. Whether you have questions about treatment, testing, side effects, or how to speak to your boss about your diagnosis, the community is here for you.

Elinor Hills is an editor at Healthline. She’s passionate about the intersection of emotional well-being and physical health, as well as how individuals form connections through shared medical experiences. Outside work, she enjoys yoga, photography, drawing, and spending way too much of her time running.