Here are some of my tips on dealing with Breast Cancer….
- What I wished I’d known when diagnosed with breast cancer
- 5 tips for the breast cancer journey
#1. What I wished I’d known when diagnosed with breast cancer
- Get leave entitlements in writing at the beginning.
- Take someone with you to negotiate these entitlements – or have someone else negotiate this on your behalf.
- Try to give Human Resources an outline of what leave and other support you’ll need (but this is hard to do).
- I told a lot of people about my diagnosis by email so that I didn’t have to handle emotional responses. I found it much easier as when I told people in person, I felt I needed to counsel them that I was going to be okay and I didn’t have the energy.
- As much as possible when you’re in shock – try and tell people how they can support you i.e. visits or no visits. And whether you want to discuss everything or not at all.
- Don’t be afraid to take more leave (if you can afford it financially). I kept rushing back to work before I was ready (I’m not quite sure why).
- To get support for my partner right at the start. I expected him to support me much more than he was able e.g. all the hospital appointments at the beginning.
- It’s good to do a bit of research but not too much. It can do your head in; especially with statistics and prognosis etc. That hours and hours and hours on the net and reading books would not find me a cure. There are no guarantees and no evidence of any other treatments that work as effectively as conventional ones at this time.
- There are amazing scientists, doctors and researchers in the world; if they haven’t found the definitive cure for cancer right now, it’s because it doesn’t exist. It is not being covered up as some people have advised me.
- That some people feel that cancer is somehow ‘emotionally created’ by the individual and will give inappropriate – unwanted advice about how you can treat it without doing chemo etc. i.e., people accept a broken leg requires conventional treatment but some think that with a life threatening illness, you can solve it with juices. I didn’t know what to say to these people.
- How to handle people who were unsupportive or said inappropriate or negative things to me during this time. That some people are not nice to you just cos you got cancer.
- That when people say ‘you’re so brave’. They are right. It takes so much strength and courage to go through diagnosis and treatment.
- Accept support, counselling and information from the Cancer Society. They are great.
- Treats are really important but so is not getting yourself into debt.
Tip #1: Time to Recover – there will probably be no other time in your life where you need to be kinder and more gentle with yourself than going through a serious illness like cancer. This means taking as much time off work as realistically possible to fully rest, convalesce and recover from the various treatments (plus have time for a few treats and coffees with friends).
Tip #2: Personal Development – if you let it, cancer can be a portal taking you through an amazing journey of personal development and learning about yourself as a unique person to a new post-cancer life. (Obviously, you may not feel that way right in the middle of a chemo session or post-surgery though).
Tip #3: Self nurture – cancer means you need self nurture. Do everything you can to care for yourself as a priority during this time and post-cancer.
Tip #4: Being Number One – for maybe the first time in your life, you have to be number one. It’s all about you. You need to put yourself first and everyone else second. Nothing else matters but you! To some, this might seem selfish or challenging or … but during cancer treatments, this is crucial.
Tip #5: Accept support, support and support.
Day to Day Matters
Breastcancer.org has an amazing range of tips:
After the urgency of getting a diagnosis and figuring out a treatment plan, there can still be many things to manage in your daily life. If you are being or have been treated for breast cancer, certain everyday realities may make themselves known: staying organized, paying for treatment, maintaining a job, making lifestyle changes, and managing symptoms and side effects. The Breastcancer.org Day-to-Day Matters section can help you navigate these issues so you can focus on the rest of your life.
In the following pages, you can learn about:
- Paying for Your Care
- How to manage treatment costs and find assistance programs.
- Breast Cancer and Your Job
- Ways to manage the emotional, physical, and legal aspects of balancing your job and your treatment.
- Managing Your Medical Records
- Suggestions about the detailed information you should collect about your treatment and how to organize it.
- Staying on Track with Treatment
- Why it’s so important to stick to your treatment plan, take the full course of medications, and continue with regular tests and doctors’ visits to keep yourself healthy into the future.
- Talking to Your Family and Friends about Breast Cancer
- Tips for talking about your breast cancer diagnosis with your partner, children, and friends.
- How foods and dietary supplements affect your risk factors, recovery, and treatments.
- How to exercise safely during and after breast cancer treatment, different types of exercise, and ways to stay motivated.
- Managing Fatigue
- What causes fatigue and what you can do about it.
- Bone Health
- Measuring bone density, dealing with osteoporosis, effects of breast cancer treatment on your bones, and what you can do to help keep them strong.
- Who gets lymphedema, how to avoid it, and how to treat it.
- Managing Menopausal Symptoms
- How to manage hot flashes, depression, memory problems, weight gain, vaginal dryness, and more.
- Sex and Intimacy
- Changes in your intimate relationships during and after breast cancer, and how to deal with them.
- Hair, Skin, and Nails
- Learn tips and tricks for managing treatment side effects, including a helpful list of resources.
- Fertility and Pregnancy Issues During and After Breast Cancer
- Information about how breast cancer treatment can affect your ability to have children.
- Understanding Your Immune System
- How your immune system works and how you can strengthen it.
- Summertime Tips
- Ways to manage seasonal issues during breast cancer treatment, including information on taking care of your skin in the summer, and finding the right bathing suit.
- Ways to Prepare for a Natural Disaster
- Tips on what to do if a natural disaster occurs during your breast cancer treatment.