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Most women who are treated for breast cancer have some form of surgery. Regardless of your age or personal circumstances, it is understandable to have concerns about how you will cope with losing a breast. Whether this loss is partial or complete, any change to your body image can be a traumatic event. Many women who have been through this experience describe it as a kind of bereavement. If you have a partner or children you may have concerns about their reactions to your operation and to you wearing a prosthesis. You may worry that it is going to change the way they feel about you.

Recovering emotionally from breast surgery can take some time. Each person’s response is different so don’t worry too much if you feel you are not coping as well as someone else you know in a similar situation. If you are struggling or feeling isolated remember that there are people who can help you. Tell your family and friends how you feel so they can support you. You might want to talk to your breast care nurse.

You might find it easier to share your feelings with someone who has had a similar experience to you. Reach to Recovery is a programme set up to help and support women who have recently had a breast cancer diagnosis. The programme works on the principle of personal contact between the patient and a Reach to Recovery volunteer – a woman who has had surgery for breast cancer. Carefully selected and fully trained volunteers are available to provide advice and reassurance at a time when a woman is most in need of both. For more information on individual support or support groups in your area, call the Action Breast Cancer Freefone Helpline on 1800 30 90 40.

Help from Action Breast Cancer

Action Breast Cancer is a national project established by the Irish Cancer Society to provide breast cancer information and support and to fund breast cancer research. Its services are free, confidential and accessible. For more information call the Action Breast Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 30 90 40 or visit