woman hugging son
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Stay Positive

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.

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women talking
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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.

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woman with oncologist
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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.

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mastectomy options
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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.

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woman wearing head scarf
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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.

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woman lifting weights
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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.

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Eat Right

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.

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happy couple
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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.

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woman on the beach
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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.

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woman playing with dog
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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.

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woman typing
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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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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/31/2020 Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 31, 2020


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American Cancer Society: “Attitudes and Cancer.”

Breastcancer.org: “Talking to Your Family and Friends About Breast Cancer.”

Breastcancer.org: “Finding Someone Else to Talk to.”

American Cancer Society: “How is breast cancer treated?”

American Cancer Society: “Targeted therapy for breast cancer.”

American Cancer Society: “What should you ask your doctor about breast cancer?”

American Cancer Society: “Need answers? 1-800-227-2345.”

National Breast Cancer Foundation: “Breast Surgery.”

National Breast Cancer Foundation: “Breast Reconstruction.”

Breastcancer.org: “Wigs.”

American Cancer Society: “The Power of Exercise in Breast Cancer Survivors.”

University of California, San Francisco, Women’s Health Matters: “Nutrition & Breast Cancer.”

Breastcancer.org: “You and Your Partner.”

Breastcancer.org: “Bathing Suit Tips.”

Bardwell, W. Sleep Medicine Clinics, March 2008.

Breastcancer.org: “Telling Your Boss and Co-Workers About Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis.”

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 31, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.