Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a life-altering moment and it will affect you in many ways. For example, treatments may change the way you look and feel about your body. The demands of cancer care may also have an impact on your personal relationships or make your day-to-day tasks more challenging.
Depression, fear, and anxiety are extremely common that they are considered normal responses. The patient, however, is not the only one to feel these things. Family members and caregivers often have these feelings too – frustrated that they may not be helping enough or afraid that they might lose a loved one.
Remember that breast cancer is one of the easiest cancers to treat. In fact, the survival rate for women with stage 0 and 1 breast cancer is almost 100 percent. You will encounter many stressors along the way, but there’s hope to hold on to. Here are ways to cope with your changing emotions.
1. Let yourself be loved and cared for.
After a mastectomy or lumpectomy, a woman may feel that normal activities, such as bathing, dressing, or being intimate with her partner, give rise to complex emotions. Some don’t feel like themselves and stop paying attention to their physical and emotional needs. Don’t distance yourself from the people who care about you. Everyone deserves to feel loved especially you who have endured so much.
2. Share your feelings.
Some days will be happy, some will be gloomy. In your cancer journey, every small milestone counts. Let your loved ones celebrate with you or comfort you. Share your feelings and give them a chance to show their support. This will give your relationship with that person a chance to grow.
3. Take steps to regain your confidence.
Surgery, chemotherapy, or any other treatment have side effects that may leave you feeling less feminine or attractive. Hair loss and weight problems are some of the most common side effects of breast cancer. Be compassionate to yourself and be mindful of your inner critic. Give yourself time to adjust. Look for solutions, like wigs or breast prostheses, that will make you feel most comfortable.
- Don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with your doctor or nurse.
If fear and depression consume you every day, bring it up to your healthcare team. These emotional problems can nearly always be managed with a combination of medicines, psychotherapy, or support groups. Along the changes that cancer treatment may bring is the loss of desire to be physically intimate. Don’t let this problem take over your life and affect your relationships. Get help and ask for appropriate referrals if needed.
Sometimes in order to fully survive breast cancer, you have to be both physically and mentally well. Cancer is a journey and coping with it is a long-term process. Allow yourself to cry, but also give people a chance to connect with you.
As everyone’s story is different, you can get ideas from other survivors on what solutions have helped them. Follow what works for you, but keep your healthcare team updated on what you are doing.