How to Live Your Best With Breast Cancer

You'll be facing some changes as you deal with breast cancer. Your energy levels might go up and down. You may be dealing with treatment side effects. There are plenty of things you can do to make those changes easier to handle.

Get better sleep. Cancer can sometimes make it hard to sleep well at night, so focus on making sure you get as much good rest as you can. Try not to take naps during the day. Skip caffeine, or only drink coffee in the morning. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try yoga, mindfulness, and massage therapy to help you relax. That should help you sleep better at night.

Fight fatigue with exercise. It may seem odd, but exercise can give you more energy even when cancer or your treatment wipes you out. Things like walking, yoga, biking, or swimming can make you feel good and keep you strong.  It can ease side effects and boost your mood. It can also help you live longer and lower your chance of the disease coming back. Light exercise is usually safe during all breast cancer treatments, but ask your doctor if you’re unsure whether to start an activity. 

Snack to control nausea. Nausea is a common side effect of chemo or radiation for some people, though it doesn’t happen to everyone. You may get it right after treatment or up to 3 days later. To keep yourself feeling good, you may find that it's best to eat a light meal or snack before a session. It can help if you eat five or six small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones. Even if you don't feel hungry, eat something like white toast, plain yogurt, or clear broth.

On the other hand, some people handle treatment better on an empty stomach. See what works best for you. 

Make the most of your energy. You might have good days when you have lots of energy and other days when you're exhausted. Try to do something you love on the days you feel good. Rest on the days you have less get-up-and-go. Here are tips to help when your energy is low:

  • Try escaping your fatigue. Listen to your favorite music or read a great book. Watch a funny movie or spend time with friends.
  • Head outside. Take a walk in the woods or work in the garden. Watch the birds or sit by a lake. Spending time in nature can ease fatigue.
  • Accept help. Don't be too proud to let someone pitch in with chores like cooking or grocery shopping. It will save your energy for more important things.

Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts is a good way to sort through all the emotions you're feeling right now. Journaling can help you sleep better and ease fatigue. It can also make it easier to adjust to all the changes you're going through. Try keeping a private diary or even a blog where you can update friends and family members online. You can keep an art journal for doodling. Or just write down one line each day. Try to look for the positive things or events that have happened since your cancer diagnosis. Have you spent more time with someone you love? Taken the chance to try something new? Keep those good things fresh in your mind by writing about them.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on June 14, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Lifestyle changes after breast cancer treatment."

Breastcancer.org: "Exercise."

National Cancer Institute: "Eating Hints: Before, During and After Cancer Treatment," "Taking Time: Support for People with Cancer."

National Comprehensive Cancer Network: "Fighting Cancer Fatigue."

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: "Journaling your way through cancer."

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