Breast Cancer in men

Support from the breast care nurse and other sources

Many people appreciate having support when they first find out they have cancer, whilst they are having treatment or when they are beginning to recover. Men talked about several sources of support that had helped them through difficult times. The most important source of support for most men was their family (see ‘Support from family, friends and colleagues’).

Many men spoke about support they had from other sources, including their doctors and particularly the breast care nurses. Usually, a breast care nurse was present when they were given their diagnosis. The nurses typically offered support by telling men what to expect next, offering to answer questions, being positive and reassuring them that they would be given support throughout their treatment. Eddie said his hospital consultant put his mind at rest and allayed his fears. Steve talked about how the breast care nurse explained everything to him and he felt he had “more or less 24/7 support” from her which at that time was very important to him. He said in his mind “she was a friend at the time”. BT’s nurse offered to come to the house a few days after his diagnosis to answer any questions that he and his family had. Other men were also very positive about the breast care nurses.
A few men did not have much contact with the breast care nurses. Eric only saw them “once or twice”. Tom said he only saw the breast care nurse when he went for check-ups but he would have liked to have had more support from them. Some men chose not to take up the support offered by the breast care nurses.
Many men felt they could still have benefited from other forms of support and many would have liked to have been able to talk to other men with breast cancer (see ‘Support from groups and other people with cancer). Sometimes the breast care nurse or one of the breast cancer charities had been able to put a man in touch with another man in the same situation.
Some men felt they would benefit from other forms of formal support. Counselling had helped a couple of men.
Some men turned to other NHS services for support. One man went to see a psychiatrist for a while but stopped his appointments because he felt that he was being asked to talk about things that were unrelated to his cancer. Another described becoming more anxious about his health in general after his diagnosis. He had found his GP practice very supportive and attentive when dealing with any of his concerns. Sometimes it was helpful just to know where someone could go to talk if they wanted to.
For men with strong religious beliefs, their faith or those who shared their faith could be a tremendous source of strength and support.

Last reviewed June 2017.
Last updated October 2013.
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