Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist And Breast Cancer Survivor Offers Perspective On How Individuals And Families Can Cope With A Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Oct 22, 2015, 08:00 ET from California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Erin Ambrose, a licensed marriage and family therapist, professor of psychology at William Jessup University and breast cancer survivor, provides tips and perspective on the strategies to cope with a breast cancer diagnosis.

"Being told 'you have cancer' are difficult words for anybody to hear," says Ambrose. "A flood of emotions and thoughts raced through my mind and it was difficult to process those complicated feelings." Ambrose suggests that newly diagnosed patients take the time to absorb and process the diagnosis before communicating about it broadly.

"Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be a very lonely episode," continues Ambrose. "Often, the patient's first instinct is to want to find solace in others, I suggest they resist this urge and first connect to self. Spreading the news too quickly can result in a flood of communication back to the patient, which they may not be prepared to handle."

Ambrose suggests that while most family and friends have the best intentions, they can add an overwhelming amount of emotional distress by asking too many questions, providing unsolicited advice or creating an environment of phony positives—when family members insist everything is going to be fine.

"While supporting a loved one through a diagnosis may be frightening or unsettling, it's important for the support network to be authentic in their feelings," says Ambrose. "Communicating an emotion such as fear or sadness is honest and grounding, versus insisting that the outcome will be okay comes from a place of denial and does not help the person who is facing the diagnosis."

As the news of the diagnosis settles, Ambrose also shares that it is important for the patient to seek out support and resources. Ambrose suggests breast cancer support groups or individual and family therapy as valuable options.

"Talking about the situation in a safe, non-threatening and supportive environment can do wonders for patients," concludes Ambrose. "Living with a diagnosis is a daunting journey, but communicating about it is an important way to heal."

To find a local therapist who can help patients or families deal with a diagnosis, please visit, a resource website sponsored by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. The site features nearly 8,000 therapists who can help manage life's challenges. 

About California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
CAMFT is an independent professional organization of 31,000 members representing the interests of marriage and family therapists. It is dedicated to advancing the profession, maintaining high standards of professional ethics, upholding the qualifications for the profession and expanding awareness of the profession.

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SOURCE California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists