A good attitude can help you better manage your cancer and its treatments. It can also improve your quality of life. Talk to a mental health specialist, others with cancer, or anyone who can offer support. Take joy in your loved ones and the little things in life.
Control Your Story
Your diagnosis can affect those closest to you, too. Tell only who you want, what you want, when you want it, and how you want it. It’s up to you. You may have different messages for kids, or friends vs. loved ones. Most importantly, find someone you can tell everything to.
Build Your Team -- and Use Them
If you have breast cancer, you may have some type of surgery. You might have radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or medicines that target specific cancer cells. It’s really important to partner with your doctor on every decision. Ask questions, read up, and understand the treatments and their effects. Find someone to lean on, if needed.
Control What Happens After Surgery
After your operation, life has its challenges. Breast reconstruction or a prosthesis? Maybe neither? Talk to your doctor and loved ones before your surgery about what might be best for you.
Not-So-Bad Hair Day
Your chemotherapy could make you lose your hair. Some suggest cutting your locks short before therapy. That way, you have less to lose and your new style returns quicker. Wigs are an answer for many. Some like scarves. Whatever you choose, remember that hair loss is temporary.
Exercise Your Mind and Body
Working out can ease depression and fatigue. Hitting the gym can also help to cut body fat. That may reduce your risk of a relapse and help you live longer. Exercise can also help joint pain, which some types of hormone therapy cause. So get out there. A walk helps, but doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
Good nutrition can help a ton. Eating right can help keep your condition from getting worse. Load up on fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and plant-based protein. Enjoy plenty of fluids, but go easy on the alcohol. Fiber’s good. Too much fat isn’t.
Intimacy? Talk About It.
You may feel less attractive because of all the changes going on in your body. You may worry what that special someone thinks of the changes in your appearance. Sex and intimacy may not be high on the list of things you want to do. The key, as always, is communication. Don’t hold back. Be honest.
Hit the Beach
Slipping into a swimsuit can be daunting for those who have gone through surgery or are going through therapy. It’s OK. Look for swimsuits with high armholes and necklines (they conceal scars). You also may want pockets for a prosthesis. Big hats or scarves can protect scalps exposed by hair loss. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
Fight That Tired Feeling
About a third of breast cancer survivors report fatigue as much as 10 years after diagnosis. Many more have it during treatment. Depression, side effects from drugs, and bad sleep can all play a part. Exercise can often be helpful to fight fatigue . Antidepressants might help, too, as well as some drugs that act as stimulants. A talk with your doctor or a mental health expert is a good place to start.
How Do You Handle Work? It’s Up to You
Some people stay on the job while getting treatment. Some take time off. Some return soon after surgery. Some take their time. Some tell their bosses. Some try to keep everything secret. What’s best? You’ll have to decide based on how you feel. If you need to tell a boss, do it in private. Let them know you’re still as committed to your job. And don’t be afraid to ask for a little flexibility.
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