Coping Tips

Coping Tips

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Understand Your Disease

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Bring a list of any and all concerns to your doctor and insist on getting the answers you need. Detailed information on cancer development, treatment, side effects, new research, relieving cancer pain and nutritional well-being is also available online.

Let Some Things Go

At least once a day, say, “Who cares?” and let go of old, rigid ways of living. In other words, “don’t worry about the small stuff.” If the house isn’t in tip-top shape, say, “Who cares?” If you forgot to floss your teeth, just let it go.

Let Your Hair Down

Right after diagnosis, it helps to confide in someone who can handle and support your emotions. Find someone you feel completely safe with – whether it is a partner, friend, sibling, spiritual leader or counsellor – and allow yourself to let it all out.

Find People to Hug

Initiate a hug whenever you feel the need for comfort. People will respond warmly - and you’ll feel better.

Tap Into Your Faith

Every religion offers comfort to help endure life’s trials. You may find strength by joining a prayer group at your synagogue or church, or by reading inspirational books and/or scripture. You can also find favourite prayers and say them often.

Be Patient with Yourself

There will come a day when your diagnosis is not the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning. But for the first few months, you may find yourself dwelling on the events of diagnosis, operation or treatment. This is perfectly normal.

Give Yourself Time to Cry

If you find yourself grieving as though you’d lost your best friend, you’re not alone. Crying is often the result of shock and many women find it can help with emotional healing. But if crying is not your way of handling stress, that’s okay too. Everyone is different.

Take Naps

Naps are immensely therapeutic, especially if you’re undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. Even 20 minutes can make a big difference to your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Set Limits

If you’re feeling overwhelmed – by work duties, volunteer activities, household tasks or social commitments, it’s time to make some changes. Make a to-do list every day and decide which tasks can be postponed or which can be delegated to someone else. And remember, it’s okay to say, “No”.

Ask for Help

If you have small children and many commitments, enlist a friend or relative to help. You’ll find that people are eager to lend a hand. When they ask how they can help, have some specifics in mind, like, “Could you watch Johnny on Friday afternoon when I go to the doctor’s surgery?” or “Could you do some shopping for me?”

Get the Support You Need

Along with drawing emotional support from family and friends, local breast cancer support groups can help considerably. One-on-one support is also available from breast cancer survivors through patient networks, hospital referrals and organisations.

Do Nice Things for Yourself

We often equate being nice to ourselves with buying things, but there are many ways to treat yourself without spending money: check out books from the library, rent a funny film, feed ducks at the lake, ask your partner for a massage, take a hot bath. And if you need to sleep 10 hours a night, give yourself the permission to do it.

Forgive Yourself

You may forget a dentist’s appointment or neglect to send Aunt Martha a birthday card. You may not feel like returning phone calls. It’s okay. People will understand.

Don’t Blame Yourself

No one knows what causes breast cancer. Don’t try to figure out why this happened to you. There are no answers and it’s not your fault.

Finding a wig

Many mail-order companies have online catalogues and may carry additional products like breast forms, “pocketed” nightgowns and scarves. If you feel more comfortable trying on wigs in person, you can ask your doctor’s office or support group organiser for a list of local shops.

Handling Financial Issues

Your hospital or clinic will have a specialist who can address financial issues and help you work with insurance. Often, they can also provide outside resources for assistance, including free educational classes or programmes.

Sex After Breast Treatment

Just because your body may have changed doesn’t mean your sex life has to. Research shows that most women with early stage breast cancer are well-adjusted emotionally and can achieve sexual satisfaction just one year after your operation. While every relationship is different, being open and honest with your partner can help you regain your pre-cancer quality of life.

When Cancer is Beaten, But Fear is Not

Look for books, journals, blogs or websites that can explain how to change your thought patterns, identify negative thoughts and replace them with constructive or realistic ones.

Restoring a Healthy Body Image

Maggie C., a breast cancer survivor, was quoted as saying “I lost a breast, a body part. That part does not define who I am.” Accepting and learning to love yourself are critical to moving past your cancer experience. Many books and blogs can provide insight on how to feel whole again, and renew your hopes and plans for the future.

Remember That You are Not Alone

There are millions of women who are making this journey with you, and millions of women who are already survivors. Today, you are a survivor, too.

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