PITTSBURGH, PA - Love conquers cancer.
That's the crux of a new study which finds family and friends can help breast cancer patients physically feel better, especially when it comes to pain.
When Mary Nagy was diagnosed with breast cancer, the support from her husband, family and friends was vital.
"Just having those people behind me and knowing that they were there, it was doable," said Nagy.
She needed two surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy, which took a heavy toll on the mother of two.
"I truly thought Mary was going to die at one point," said Betty Pruszynski, Nagy's mother.
But they dealt with Nagy's cancer together. Her mom and her sister, Suzy, helped with chores and errands.
"It was always just pick up the boys for her, keep them for a while, bring her dinner if she needed it, or on a good day, we go out shopping," said Suzy Rice, Nagy's sister.
"It would really take my mind off a lot of what was going on," Nagy said.
A new Kaiser Permanente study finds that close relationships can help breast cancer patients deal with pain and other physical symptoms better.
"Having more friends and family engaged with you actually led to those women having a better quality of life, a better physical quality of life," said Dr. Joanne Schottinger, an oncologist.
Dr. Schottinger says she takes social support into consideration when treating patients.
"That we assess how much support they have and try to refer someone and help them if it looks like they need more," said Dr. Schottinger.
Nagy has been cancer-free now for more than seven years, and celebrates each day with her mom and sister by her side.
Women who had little or no positive social interactions were three times more likely to report a low-quality of life and greater physical symptoms.
Looking for a support group in the Bay area? Here are a few to check out: