Throughout her own cancer battle, Stefanie answered questions through an “Ask Stefanie” page on Her words and guidance are still relevant to many who are now receiving cancer treatment, and for the family and friends supporting them.

Dear Stefanie,

On Friday, my wife had a biopsy and we were told she has breast cancer. What a shock! It has been hard to accept. She just turned 30. After the initial shock, I talked to my wife about attacking this head on. I’ve tried to tell her that 3 days ago she felt fine and not to feel sorry for herself. But I’m not sure what I should do. I want to be compassionate, and not be hard, but at the same time I want to make sure she has a positive attitude and is ready to fight this. I’ve been an athlete and a football coach, now I’m a strength coach and a bodybuilder and this is really the only way I know to react. But I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. I know she is very scared, as am I, but I don’t want to let fear cause too much stress for her. We also have 2 children, our son is 5 and my daughter is 16 months old. Once we get more information about her treatment, I plan to arrange my schedule around her and our family’s needs. I have tried to explain to my son what is going on. I was honest with him, but all he really knows is Mommy is sick. I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help her and I want some advice as to how Chris dealt with taking over more of the family obligations, that maybe were your responsibility before cancer. I’m worried about making sure my kids understand what is going on. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. — Joey

I am so sorry your wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer. You sound like a very loving, supportive husband and that is what your wife needs. Our kids were similar in ages when I was originally diagnosed. I was 30 years old too. We talked to them about the cancer, but used words they understood and wouldn’t scare them. I told them, “Mommy has a boo-boo in my boobie.” People laugh when I tell the story, but it worked. There is a book that may be helpful to you. It is called Breast Cancer Husband by Marc Silver. We found the book very useful and could identify with all of it. You are in the scariest part of the “cancer experience” right now, in my opinion. You know your wife has it, but you don’t have a game plan yet. Once you know what type of surgery and/or treatment she needs, you’ll feel like you can be more proactive. Stay strong, keep the faith and our prayers go out to you and your family. — Stefanie

Dear Stefanie,

My sister age 43 has recently discovered that her breast cancer has metastasized to her liver and possible lining of
her lung. She was diagnosed originally two years ago and has three young boys. How, as a sister, can I provide help to
her? She is devastated... very depressed. She is HRneg and undergoing chemo again...when she asks me if I think she
is going to “Make it”....I’m worried about her mental health as much as her physical health... any suggestions? Are there
support groups for sisters? Thanks and best of luck to you.... — Anonymous

I am so sorry about your sister. I’m sure it is difficult for you as well. I have three sisters myself. I would suggest getting her to see someone about depression. I know many women treated for depression during a cancer recurrence. It is such a difficult time. I don’t know where she is being treated, but The James has many support groups for her and caregivers. I definitely recommend them for both of you.

When I am sick, I worry about my kids more than myself. If you can help with them so your sister can see that their normal routine is kept as much as possible, that would be a huge relief to her...meals, homework, laundry, etc. Also, take notes for her at doctor appointments, etc. We think we can remember everything, but we don’t. Give her plenty of rest and sometimes it’s not what you say to her that’s most important, it’s that you allow her to vent to you. Be strong for her. — Stefanie

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