October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to mark the campaign, national charity, Breast Cancer Haven, is highlighting the devastating impact a diagnosis can have on family and friends.

Breast cancer is the UK’s most common cancer and around 5,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this month. Each breast cancer diagnosis is traumatic and takes a huge toll on the individual: physically, emotionally and even financially.

But this trauma isn’t limited to the person diagnosed; it also changes the lives of those closest to them, too. For every man or woman diagnosed with breast cancer, there are any number of family members and loved ones for whom the emotional impact is similarly devastating. Equally, the burden of care can be exhausting and family finances can also suffer if one or more adult cannot work anymore. 

Coryn, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was eleven, said: “The diagnosis made me feel disconnected from things. I had a hard time making friendships and letting people in. Breast cancer changed both our lives. It made me grow up, appreciate life and my mum. Ultimately, it’s made me a stronger person but I’m definitely more closed off.”

Luca, whose mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer, said: “I would randomly start crying at school which I felt ashamed of and didn’t want to tell my parents” 

Dr Caroline Hoffman, Clinical and Research Director at Breast Cancer Haven said: “As the UK’s most common cancer, the mental health impact of breast cancer is widespread. It doesn’t only affect the individual diagnosed, but all their loved ones too, and it can no longer be ignored. The mental health consequences, particularly for children, can be catastrophic while the additional burden of care is physically and mentally exhausting. Feelings of guilt, stress, and worry can strain familial relationships.”

Breast Cancer Haven is a national charity that offers free personalised complementary therapies to all those affected by breast cancer, designed to help manage the symptoms of the disease and the side-effects of treatment.

Breast Cancer Haven also offers four hours' of free counselling and advice for the families and close friends of those diagnosed.

The counselling is designed to help ease the burden on the families and friends of those affected.

Sally Hall, CEO of Breast Cancer Haven added: “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a really important time for us to raise awareness of our vital services. Our aim as an organisation is to support all those affected by breast cancer. We understand the devastating effect that a diagnosis can have on the individual’s loved ones and we’re here to help them, too. If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with breast cancer, come and speak to us. We’ll listen.”