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Q. I was diagnosed with DCIS last year and my family's reaction has been "it's not really cancer". It hurts me that during my biopsies, lumpectomies and radiation, no one asked how I was doing. How do I get over the disappointment with my family and manage the stress of my own diagnosis?


Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is an early noninvasive form of breast cancer in which abnormal cells multiply and form a growth within a milk ducts of the breast. The term “noninvasive” means that the abnormal cells have not spread out of the milk duct into other parts of the breast. DCIS is normally found during a mammogram and confirmed by a biopsy. If left untreated, it is more likely to develop into invasive breast cancer so it is important to seek treatment.

During times of crisis such as health emergencies it is not unusual for friends, family members and loved ones to react in unexpected ways. Based on what you have shared, it sounds like your family’s response was unsympathetic and hurtful. Often times, loved ones think that they should only be positive or always look on the bright side. This can leave the patient feeling unsupported and unable to express his or her true feelings. I’m not sure if you’ve shared your feelings with your family, but sometimes people do not know what to say or do and need a little guidance.

Support groups can be an important part of overcoming your feelings of disappointment. Groups are a place where you find the support you need and feel heard and understood. Make sure to find a group that is a good fit for you; some organizations offer groups for women who’ve been diagnosed with DCIS or early stage breast cancer, including SHARE: Self-Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer.

I encourage you to be take care of yourself. You may want to explore individual counseling to work through your disappointment and stress. Learn more about counseling.

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