NEW YORK—In the months leading up to her daughter’s breast cancer diagnosis, Rebecca Johnson decided not to cry.
She believed crying could lead to a relapse.
“It’s really just about the fear of the outcome,” Johnson told Newsweek.
“I don’t want to think about what my daughter’s going to go through because of this,” she said.
Johnson, a mother of four, had gone from feeling good about her daughter being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer to dreading it when she finally did.
“She’s just like, ‘You know, I don’t have to be like this anymore,'” Johnson told her daughter.
But she said that, as the months passed, she was relieved when her daughter was healthy.
The mother said she was able to be more confident and express herself in her own way.
Johnson was among a growing number of American women who have decided to stop crying over the diagnosis of breast cancer.
And while this may seem like a trend, there is little evidence that crying helps women stay cancer-free.
Breast cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the United States, and the majority of women with the disease live in high-income countries.
The disease has been linked to a wide range of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, depression, and depression-related health problems, such as anxiety and anxiety-related behaviors.
Many experts say that crying can worsen the chances of relapse, leading women to think they’re not able to handle the stress of a relapse and may even make them more likely to relapse.
A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology found that crying is linked to increased risk for relapse.
The researchers asked over 5,000 women to answer questions about their health and emotions during the past year and found that more than half of women had shed tears during a relapse because they were “more anxious or stressed out” about their illness.
“They were feeling very stressed out,” said lead author Amy Kapp, a doctoral student in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
“And crying, again, is one of the things that can exacerbate the stress.”
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In addition to the study, Kapp said that the team also asked women about the emotional impact of crying.
“What we found was that crying about cancer and having it be a burden is linked with feelings of stress, anxiety, depression,” Kapp told Newsweek in an email.
“When women felt more anxious about their disease, they were more likely than women who felt less anxious to say they were less likely to cry during a crisis,” she added.
“So crying, as a way of coping with stress, might actually increase the risk of relapse.”
For her part, Johnson has no regrets about letting her daughter cry over her diagnosis.
“For me, it’s a positive thing to let her cry,” Johnson said.
“Because, honestly, I just wanted to be with her and support her as much as I could.”
Johnson, who is now 31, has been a breast cancer survivor herself.
She said she began breast cancer treatment in her early 20s, and after a year of therapy, she started feeling better and was able a year ago to get her cancer checked out.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Johnson, now 33, told Newsweek after being diagnosed.
“But it’s been the best thing I could’ve ever hoped for.”
She said that she believes crying over her cancer diagnosis helped her feel better.
“In a way, it made me feel like, Oh, my God, this is going to be over,” Johnson added.
She also believes that crying over a relapse can lead to more anxiety and depression.
“My fear of relapse is heightened when I feel like I’m not being loved,” Johnson explained.
“That’s when I’m just more stressed out.”