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
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.
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.
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
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.