Sixteen breast cancer patients were interviewed about any lifestyle changes they had experienced and their reactions to those changes. Data were collected and analysed via content analysis and then summary tabulations of patient responses until replication of responses was verified across patients. Results indicated that most patients suffered a reduction in recreation activities, unpleasant physical side effects from treatment and loss of feminine appearance characteristics, all of which were seen as decreases in previously available and valuable sources of social support and self-esteem. In response to these losses, patients reported a common coping strategy of avoidance or escape similar to some depressive symptomatology. Implications for counsellors are discussed.