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Breast Cancer: Answers to Your Questions

How do you tell the kids? How can you stay calm? There are some questions your doctor can't answer. Here are insights from people who understand – other women with breast cancer.

How am I going to look after treatment? continued...

One last point: Don't be surprised if you gain 10 or 20 pounds during treatment. Most doctors warn you about losing weight because of nausea. But some medications cause you to gain weight, and so do many of the foods that settle your stomach -- mashed potatoes, crackers, etc. Never go on a diet during treatment without talking to your doctor.

Remember, pamper yourself in every way possible. Eat what you want to eat, within reason. Buy what you want to buy to make yourself look good in your eyes. It's important to know yourself, and to give yourself what you need.

What do I tell my kids?

Most women in WebMD's breast cancer community just sat our children down and told them we had breast cancer. We told them we would probably have an operation and chemotherapy, and that we would be sick for awhile, but we were pretty sure we would get better. What you say, of course, depends on how old your children are. But, keep in mind, your children will feel hurt if you exclude them from this part of your life. They want to help. And they'll probably feel a little safer if they're involved.

One woman, a single mother, let her children come to chemotherapy with her, and asked the kids to hold her hands because they felt cold. (Her hands weren't really cold but the kids felt so good about helping!) Most moms expect the kids to help out around the house bit more, or run some errands. Your kids will probably surprise you with their maturity. But they also need to maintain some normalcy in their own lives. It helps if they know the new chores are temporary, and if you arrange for friends to help drive so they don't have to miss practices or rehearsals.

What can I do to lessen my anxiety?

Talk! Chat online! And take anti-anxiety medication if it helps! Find support, perhaps through a formal support group, or counseling, or through your church.

Waiting is one of the worst ordeals you will go through on this journey. Talk with friends, especially other women with breast cancer. Your friends from "before" love you, but they don't really understand. Talking with other survivors can help ward off the worry monster when you're waiting for critical test results. Remember, chat rooms and message boards throughout the Internet never close. The web works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and so does the telephone.

Sometimes, talk isn't enough. You shouldn't feel surprised if you feel anxious or depressed; you have good cause. And you shouldn't hesitate to take medication to help you cope. Talk to your doctor first, of course. Some women take an anti-anxiety pill only on the days they go in for test results or a CAT scan. Some take an antidepressant every day. Other women get the "medicine" they need just talking online. Whatever works for you, do it. But don't let anxiety or depression drag you down.

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