Chemo Brain And Stress
Many people experience mental changes after chemotherapy treatment. This is sometimes called chemo brain. You may have problems such as poor memory, trouble finding words, difficulty focusing. This can affect parts of your life, including caring for your family and managing your job.
Some things that help with chemo brain include keeping a calendar, writing everything down, and exercising your brain with puzzles and reading. Try to focus on 1 task at a time instead of more than 1 task. You can also work with an occupational therapist for cognitive behavioral rehabilitation. This is a treatment to help you if you have cognitive issues. Occupational therapists work in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Occupational and Physical Therapy. For more information about cognitive behavioral rehabilitation, talk with your healthcare provider for a referral.
Try to avoid having goals for yourself that are too high. This can add to your stress level and frustration. Most people say it takes 6 to 12 months after they finish chemotherapy before they truly feel like themselves again. Read the resource Managing Cognitive Changes: Information for Cancer Survivors for more information about managing chemo brain.
Side Effects Of Treatment
There are also many things you can do at home to help manage side effects of treatment. But talk to your doctor about any bothersome symptoms. Working together with your doctor can help you have the best possible quality of life.
Additional information about breast cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/breast.
How Is It Treated
To plan your treatment, your doctor will consider where the cancer is and what type of treatment you had in the past. Your wishes and quality of life are also important factors. Treatment choices may include surgery, medicines like chemotherapy or hormone therapy, and radiation. Sometimes a mix of these treatments is used.
Treatments for breast cancer can cause side effects. Your doctor can tell you what problems to expect and help you find ways to manage them.
Your doctor may recommend that you join a clinical trial if one is available in your area. Clinical trials test new cancer treatments and may be the best choice for you.
If treatments don’t work, a time may come when the goal of your treatment shifts from trying to cure your cancer to keeping you as comfortable as possible. This can allow you to make the most of the time you have left.
Don’t Miss: Life Expectancy Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Palliative Care And Pain Control
The side effects from treatments and the cancer itself can affect quality of life.
Controlling pain and other symptoms should be part of standard care for everyone with breast cancer. Its especially important for those with metastatic breast cancer.
Treatment may include pain medications and may target specific parts of the body.
What Is The Treatment For Metastatic Breast Cancer
The primary treatments for metastatic breast cancers are systemic therapies with medications. Medications may vary depending on the type of breast cancer and where it has spread. Medications may be administered as oral tablets, injections or infusions.
Breast cancer patients also have the option of registering for clinical trials for new treatments. Surgery and/or radiation therapy have limited use in treating metastatic breast cancer. Radiation therapy is the use of high energy rays or particles directed at the cancer cells to destroy them.
Surgery and/or radiation therapy may be used in metastatic breast cancer to:
- Remove the primary tumor in the breast if it is causing an open wound
- Treat small areas of the brain in case of brain metastasis
- Relieve pressure on the spinal cord in case of metastasis to the spine
- Prevent fractures in bone metastasis
- Treat blockage in the liver
- Provide relief from pain and other symptoms from metastatic cancer
Systemic therapies for metastatic cancer typically consist of a combination of two or more of the following therapies:
Chemotherapy is the primary treatment for metastatic breast cancer. Chemotherapy drugs kill all cells that are in the growth and division phases, including healthy ones. Chemotherapy is particularly toxic to cancer cells because they are always growing and dividing.
Recommended Reading: Breast Cancer Stage 4 Treatment
In Children Acute Nausea And Vomiting Is Usually Treated With Drugs And Other Methods
Drugs may be given before each treatment to prevent nausea and vomiting. After chemotherapy, drugs may be given to prevent delayed vomiting. Patients who are given chemotherapy several days in a row may need treatment for both acute and delayed nausea and vomiting. Some drugs last only a short time in the body and need to be given more often. Others last a long time and are given less often.
The following table shows drugs that are commonly used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and the type of drug. Different types of drugs may be given together to treat acute and delayed nausea and vomiting.
Non-drug treatments may help relieve nausea and vomiting, and may help antinausea drugs work better in children. These treatments include:
Dont Miss: What Happens To The Cells In Breast Cancer
Other Types Of Breast Cancer
Other less common types of breast cancer include invasive lobular breast cancer, which develops in the cells that line the milk-producing lobules, inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease of the breast.
It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymph nodes or the bloodstream. If this happens, it’s known as “secondary” or “metastatic” breast cancer.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Prognosis For Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.
If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income
Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.
‘i Felt Something Like A Hard Round Piece Of Cheese’
After a shower one night, I did a self-breast check. I felt something like a round, hard piece of cheese about the size of a quarter. I had just had a mammogram six months earlier. I felt healthy, biked all the time, and wouldnt have guessed that something wasnt right in my body. But I didnt wait to see what was going on. I went to the doctor immediately and was referred for an ultrasound and needle biopsy. I was diagnosed at age 46 with stage 3 breast cancer, and soon after had a mastectomy. I would never recommend to anyone to ‘wait and see.’ While it was a very scary realization, youre only saving yourself if you take care of it aggressively.
Sandy Hanshaw, founder of Bike for Boobs, San Diego
Don’t Miss: What Are The Symptoms Of Stage 1 Breast Cancer
But Newer Implants Are Safe Right
If you look at research or ask a surgeon, I think most will tell you implants are not made like they used to be, and after years of debating safety they are safe now. You will likely hear that newer implants are not likely to leak or cause illness and they dont have the risk implants once carried. Most surgeons will tell you the simplicity of recovery and give you the general basic risks of any surgery. After all, implants are FDA approved, right?
The FDA has a list of risks and complications of breast implants, but even the FDA notes possible complications, among them being Symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, rash, brain fog, and joint pain have been reported by some patients with breast implants. Some patients may use the term breast implant illness to describe these symptoms. US FDA
I think most surgeons will not tell you that implant shells are made with silicone, which is an endocrine disruptor. Or that they can slowly release heavy metals, silicone and other chemicals into the body. Over time, the immune system is weakened and that makes the other body systems at risk for being compromised. This eventually makes the body go a little crazy and things slowly start going wrong.
Re: Newly Diagnosed I Was In Pieces
Hi, I just saw your post and was wondering how you are doing. I was just diagnosed this week and i am going thru the same feelings. My biopsy w lymph node had it too. Now every little pain i feel i panic thinking its cancer spreading. I have an apt w dr tomorrow. Stay strong! Hope you have more news and are starting a treatment plan.
Dont Miss: What Does Stage 3b Breast Cancer Mean
You May Like: What Is Grade 2 Breast Cancer
Who Can Help Me Control My Pain
It should be possible to achieve good control of your pain. It is important for you to let your team know if you are having a lot of pain, as a change in dose or use of different drugs may be helpful. Sometimes, your oncologist may suggest you see someone who specialises in cancer pain management, perhaps at a pain clinic or through palliative care .
It is important to talk with your treating team about any pain you may be experiencing. The more accurately you can describe the pain, the easier it will be for your doctor to prescribe the most effective treatment.
Keeping a diary noting the following could help:
- If 0 is no pain at all and 10 is the worst pain you could imagine, what number is yours?
- What does it feel like a dull ache or more like stabbing or burning?
- Is it constant or intermittent?
- If it comes and goes, when is it at its worst and how long does it last?
- Is it easy to pinpoint, or more generalised?
- Is there anything that provides relief or that makes it worse?
- If you have tried different medications, did one work better than another?
Some people worry that if they take too much pain medication they may become dependent on it. You may also find yourself worrying that increasing the amount of pain medication you are using means that your cancer is getting worse. There are many myths about pain-relieving agents and cancer, particularly morphine.
Also Check: What Is Stage 2 Cancer Of The Breast
‘i Noticed What Felt Like A Frozen Pea In My Armpit’
During a routine breast self-exam, I felt a really tiny lump. It didnt hurt, but it was mobile and felt like a frozen pea. It was right inside my armpit, which seemed odd at first, but I remembered that your breast tissue actually extends into your armpit. This didnt feel consistent with the breast changes that came along with my menstrual cycle.
“I actually kept quite calm, even though in my gut, I knew what was going on. So I called my ob-gyn, who offered to take a look during my next annual exam, which was months away. After nothing changed in a week, I called the breast center at my local hospital and demanded to be seen. After imaging and biopsies, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24.
“From my experience, I hope that other women will learn that you need to monitor changes in your body, but its futile if youre afraid to speak up about them. Women need to have the confidence to speak up.
Brittany Whitman, Cleveland Education Ambassador for Bright Pink
The Downside Of Mammograms
Mammography has been the medical industrys gold standard breast cancer screening tool for nearly four decades, and the procedure has been pushed on women with great zeal by physicians, public health programs, and cancer organizations. However, mounting scientific evidence indicates that mammography may not only be far less effective than we have been led to believe, but that it also has numerous drawbacks that are affecting women on a massive scale. Read on to learn about the major drawbacks of mammography, what the research recommends for breast cancer screening, and about promising breast cancer detection alternatives.
Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Bones
You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread to the bones:
- an ache or pain in the affected bone
- breaks in the bones because they are weaker
- breathlessness, looking pale, bruising and bleeding due to low levels of blood cells – blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells
Sometimes when bones are damaged by advanced cancer, the bones release calcium into the blood. This is called hypercalcaemia and can cause various symptoms such as:
Read Also: How Long Can You Live Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Fatigue Before Diagnosis
How do I tell when I have breast cancer? This has been the question most people ask but they dont have the most appropriate answer. Breast cancer eats slowly into the body which can make it difficult to be identified in the early stages. Breast cancer fatigue before diagnosis is common among the cancer patients and it must be monitored and managed properly.
This can be characterized by low energy in the body and weakness which are rarely experienced by healthy people. Such condition may be treated lightly before cancer diagnosis and can easily be assumed to be the normal sleep. The fatigue may be experienced as a result of breast cancer without the knowledge of an individual or may be caused by the treatment process.
You dont have to wait for the breast cancer condition to get worse to take the necessary steps for diagnosis and treatment. Today therere better ways for cancer diagnosis which are effective and cost effective in terms of budget. You can totally depend on the related symptoms and fatigue to tell o the cancer condition but a lot more needs to be done.
Across the world, different people have reported extreme fatigue which later turned up to be caused by the breast cancer. You should work closely with your doctor for the right diagnose when you feel extreme levels of fatigue.Impact of the breast cancer fatigue.
Nausea Vomiting And Taste Changes
You may experience nausea and vomiting after your last chemotherapy treatment. It should go away in 2 to 3 weeks.
Your appetite may continue to be affected due to taste changes you may have experienced during your treatment. Your taste should go back to normal 1 to 2 months after chemotherapy. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help with these changes. Talk with your nurse if youd like more information.
Also Check: Chances Of Getting Breast Cancer Twice
Consider Treatment Before Nausea Begins
There are a number of medications that can be useful both during and before chemo, Dr. Williams says. If youve struggled with nausea in other waysfor example, having a sensitive stomach when it comes to certain foods, having morning sickness if you were pregnant, or having motion sickness while travelingthen tell your doctor, since a preventative approach may be the best option for you.
When To See Your Doctor
Its important to talk to your physician if you have breast pain from any cause. Even if its not due to cancer, many women find that breast pain decreases their quality of life. In one study,15% of the women experienced breast pain at some time in their life that interfered with work and family activities. So, make sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any suspicious discomfort.
British Columbia Specific Information
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in British Columbia. Breast cancer can occur in men as well, but it is not as common. Tests and treatments for breast cancer vary from person to person, and are based on individual circumstances. Certain factors such as your age, family history, or a previous breast cancer diagnosis may increase your risk of developing breast cancer. For information about your specific risk factors, speak with your health care provider.
A number of screening methods, including mammograms in women, can help find and diagnose breast cancer. The decision to have a mammogram or use any other screening method may be a difficult decision for some women. While screening for breast cancer is often recommended, it is not mandatory. Speak with your health care provider for information regarding how to get screened, the facts and myths about screening tests, how to maintain your breast health, and to get help making an informed decision.
For more information about breast cancer and breast cancer screening, visit:
If you have questions about breast cancer or medications, speak with your health care provider or call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse or pharmacist. Our nurses are available anytime, every day of the year, and our pharmacists are available every night from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.