Health Watch -- Helping Others Survive

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

People who’ve won the battle against breast cancer have a lot to gain by helping others.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and on Healthwatch, we’ve focused on ways this disease can be prevented, detected and treated. Today we’ll look at a way breast cancer patients can help others – and themselves.

Breast cancer is not a disease anyone should go through alone. It’s physically and emotionally stressful. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say that patients can be a great help to each other in their struggles with the disease. UT Southwestern has a program called Coping with Breast Cancer, in which patients who have gone through surgery and treatment for breast cancer volunteer to work with newly diagnosed patients and their families. 

Volunteers can help patients who are facing serious decisions about their care. By sharing their own experiences with various treatment options, volunteers provide valuable information to new patients.

But it’s not just the newly diagnosed patients who benefit from the relationship. Dr. Elizabeth Naftalis, who runs the program, says that the volunteers also get a lot out of helping others. She says sharing their experiences gives them a sense of well being and reinforces the fact that they survived. They also feel good about being able to give something back to others.