Many women say the diagnosis of advanced breast cancer is often harder to deal with than the initial diagnosis.

You may experience fear, anguish, sadness, anxiety, or a sense of detachment. These are all normal and it is best to just "go with them" rather than to push them away or to deny them.

Many people advocate being positive and this is a good thing to do, but it is not always possible. If you are feeling sad, down or angry then feel these emotions, don't berate yourself for not being positive. It's hard to be positive when you have such a tough diagnosis to deal with. But if you can try to find the positive in life, the joy, the happiness ... then do so.

The prolonged treatment and stress of secondary breast cancer means you will need a lot of emotional and practical support.

You may benefit from talking to a counsellor to discuss your fears and worries. This approach may also be helpful for your partner/children or family and friends, who will also feel the stress of this diagnosis.

Above all, it's important to hold onto hope when you are diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. You can still hope for a good life; hope for time to enjoy the world, your family, your friends; hope for new experiences etc. Many people find a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer makes them look at life differently and allows them to make the most of life. Seize this feeling and run with it.

Some other tips to help you cope emotionally include:

  • Talk to other women with advanced breast cancer. Sharing experiences can be helpful and it’s good to know you are not alone.
  • Write a journal and keep notes about your experience, your feelings and thoughts. Simply writing these things down can help to relieve the emotional burden.
  • Join a support group. Sweet Louise has support groups for women with secondary breast cancer or you could join Metavivors NZ a closed Facebook support group for those with secondary breast cancer.
  • Try meditation, yoga, pilates or do some gentle exercise. Physical activity that helps you to relax and de-stress can be helpful.
  • Express yourself through music, art, dance or whatever outlet you enjoy.  Make the most of your talents and activities that make you feel good.
  • Connect with friends and family. They are on this journey with you so let them help you when they can.
  • Talk to a counsellor or psychologist. If you are finding the emotional burden too much, talk to a professional. Depression is not uncommon in women with secondary breast cancer so don’t hesitate to seek help. For a list of counsellors and psychologists in your area click here.
  • If you are experiencing difficulty with pain or are concerned about pain management you may find this 2024 webinar ‘Managing your pain for people living with breast cancer’ helpful.
  • The information at this link may also be useful and provides links to additional information.

You may find more useful information on our support page.