Schedule You Time Each Week
Elaine F., 35, was immediately struck with terror after being diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at 34, she tells SELF. Elaine frequently lost herself in thoughts of her illness, which took her to a dark mental and emotional space. Between that and all the logistics that come with navigating breast cancer, she had little time to enjoy as much of life as she could.
I realized that I hadnt set aside much time for me to do the things I wanted to do for myself, Elaine tells SELF. setting aside time to do things that would bring me joy, including hiking, going to comedy shows, getting massages, and reading new books, she says. Devoting her time and energy to something besides thinking about breast cancer gave her a much-needed reprieve.
Dana D., 37, had a similar experience after being diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2010. As the founder of AnaOno Intimates, a lingerie company for people with breast cancer, Dana often felt like the illness was overwhelming her life from both personal and professional angles. She was constantly juggling doctors visits, working to pay medical bills, helping others dealing with breast cancer through her company, and trying to sleep enough due to the understandable fatigue. It was a lot to handle, so Dana learned to treat herself to pedicures, massages, and facials. In addition to the relaxation, this allowed Dana to feel looked after for reasons that had nothing to do with her cancer, she explains.
Looking For More On How To Track Side Effects
Cancer.Net offers several resources to help you keep track of your symptoms and side effects. Please note that these links will take you to other sections of Cancer.Net:
- Cancer.Net Mobile: The free Cancer.Net mobile app allows you to securely record the time and severity of symptoms and side effects.
- ASCO Answers Managing Pain:Get this 36-page booklet about the importance of pain relief that includes a pain tracking sheet to help patients record how pain affects them. The free booklet is available as a PDF, so it is easy to print.
- ASCO Answers Fact Sheets: Read 1-page fact sheets on anxiety and depression, constipation, diarrhea, rash, and immunotherapy side effects that provide a tracking sheet to record details about the side effect. These free fact sheets are available as a PDF, so they are easy to print, fill out, and give to your health care team.
The next section in this guide is Follow-up Care and Monitoring. It explains the importance of check-ups after you finish cancer treatment. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
Make Time For Exercise
Fatigue from cancer and its treatments may make exercising seem impossible, but if you get some activity in every day, youll feel better and have more energy. Go for a walk, do yoga or tai chi, or pedal on a stationary bike.
Exercise also helps you sleep better, improves your appetite, and relieves constipation.
Start with just 10 minutes of fitness a day, and work your way up to 30 minutes or more as your strength returns.
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Challenges Coping Strategies And Social Support Among Breast Cancer Patients In Ghana
1Department of Nursing, Garden City University College, Kumasi, Ghana
2SDA Nursing and Midwifery Training College, Axim, Ghana
3Christian Service University College, Kumasi, Ghana
4School of Public Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
Globally, breast cancer remains the second leading cause of mortality among women, with increasing rates particularly in developing countries where the majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages . In Africa, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer annually, with an estimated incidence of 168,690 cases and 74,072 related deaths in 2018 . In Western Africa, although precise estimates are lacking as a result of absence of a cancer registry in most countries, recent GLOBOCAN data estimate age-standardized incidence and mortality rates of 37.3 and 17.8 per 100,000 female, respectively, in 2018 , making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, a shift from previous decades in which cervical cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer . Survival from BC is known to be markedly lower in Africa compared with other regions in the world . This is not different in Ghana where BC has become the leading cause of mortality among women and it is also the common cause of hospital admissions among Ghanaian women .
1.1. Theoretical Framework
2.1. Study Design and Setting
2.2. Study Population and Sampling
2.4. Other Variables
Coping With Physical Side Effects
Common physical side effects from each treatment option for early-stage and locally advanced breast cancer are listed in the Types of Treatment section. Learn more about side effects of cancer and its treatment, along with ways to prevent or control them. Changes to your physical health depend on several factors, including the cancers stage, the length and dose of treatment, and your general health.
Talk with your health care team regularly about how you are feeling. It is important to let them know about any new side effects or changes in existing side effects. If they know how you are feeling, they can find ways to relieve or manage your side effects to help you feel more comfortable and potentially keep any side effects from worsening.
You may find it helpful to keep track of your side effects so it is easier to explain any changes with your health care team. Learn more about why tracking side effects is helpful.
Sometimes, physical side effects can last after treatment ends. Doctors call these long-term side effects. They call side effects that occur months or years after treatment late effects. Treating long-term side effects and late effects is an important part of survivorship care. Learn more by reading the Follow-up Care and Monitoring section of this guide or talking with your doctor.
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What Are Some Effective Relaxation Exercises
Two-minute relaxation. Switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. You should feel relaxed.
Mind relaxation. Close your eyes. Breathe normally through your nose. As you exhale, silently say to yourself the word “one,” a short word such as “peaceful” or a short phrase such as “I feel quiet.” Continue for 10 minutes. If your mind wanders, gently remind yourself to think about your breathing and your chosen word or phrase. Let your breathing become slow and steady.
Deep breathing relaxation. Imagine a spot just below your navel. Breath into that spot and fill your abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath out, you should feel more relaxed.
How Can I Make My Life Better?
What Type Of Psychological Treatment Is Helpful
A combination of individual and group treatment sometimes works best. Individual sessions with a licensed psychologist typically emphasize the understanding and modification of patterns of thinking and behavior.
Group psychological treatment with others who have breast cancer gives women a chance to give and receive emotional support and learn from the experiences of others. To be most effective, groups should be made up of women at similar stages of the disease and led by psychologists or other mental health professionals with experience in breast cancer treatment.
Whether aimed at individuals or groups, psychological interventions strive to help women adjust to their diagnoses, cope with treatment, and come to terms with the diseases impact on their lives. These interventions offer psychologists an opportunity to help women better understand breast cancer and its treatment. Psychologists typically ask women open-ended questions about their assumptions, ideas for living life more fully, and other matters. Although negative thoughts and feelings are addressed, most psychological interventions focus on problem-solving as women meet each new challenge.
Thanks to Alice F. Chang, PhD, and Sandra B. Haber, PhD, who assisted with this article.
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Breast Cancer: Tips For Family
It can be scary to learn that someone you care about has breast cancer. You might feel sad or worried and wonder how you can help them get through it.
With the right steps, you can make things easier for your loved one and yourself after their diagnosis and during treatment. Here are some tips for family and friends of someone with breast cancer:
- Write your questions down so you donât forget them. If itâs OK with your loved one, you can go with them to an appointment and ask the doctor about them. You may want to let other people know what youâre going to ask before you go.
- Be prepared for changes in your loved one’s behavior and mood. Medications, side effects from treatment, and stress may make their feel depressed, angry, or tired.
- Encourage them to be active and to do as much for themself as possible. It will help them feel a sense of control.
- Donât forget to take care of yourself, too. Be sure you get enough sleep, eat well, and take some time off for yourself. If you stay well, it will be easier to help your loved one.
- Ask other family members and friends to pitch in, too. They can bring meals, take the dog for a walk, or offer rides to doctorâs appointments. Most people will appreciate the chance to help.
A loved oneâs illness can be stressful for you, too. To keep your worries from taking over:
Let Yourself Feel Everything You’re Feeling
Its totally normal to experience a flood of emotions after a breast cancer diagnosis. may feel angry, numb, scared, overwhelmed, or as if the universe is an unjust and hateful place to exist, Kimberly Vandegeest-Wallace, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with the University of Kansas Health System, tells SELF.
Also totally normal: You may have the urge to suppress these reactions when dealing with breast cancer. Honestly, whatever youre feeling is valid, and ultimately you should do whatever you need to do in order to get through the experience. For some, letting your emotions come through without judgement can be particularly helpful. Regardless of the emotional response, one of the most nurturing things we can do is to normalize and make room for it, says Vandegeest-Wallace. If you are mad, dont deny it. Just be mad for a minute. It is an emotion. It wont last forever. As she explains, Emotions are wonderfully fluid.
After being diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2018, Colandra M., 36, found that creating space for her feelings was essential. If I did not allow myself to feel the reality of what was happening to me, I would not have been able to cope, Colandra tells SELF. me to overcome … my fear of the unknown.
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How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer
A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.
The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.
Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.
MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.
Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if it’s a tumor that could be cancer.
Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.
Coping With Changes To Your Body After Breast Cancer
Women with breast cancer are often distressed by changes to their body after treatment.
These can include scars from surgery, hair loss due to chemotherapy, swelling in the arm and weight gain.
If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer, how can you prepare for the possibilities?
And psychologically, how can you best cope with them?
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Express Your Feelings Keep The Lines Of Communication Open
When you express strong feelings like anger or sadness, you are more likely to let go of them. Some people vent out their feelings by talking to friends or family, other cancer survivors, a support group, or a counsellor. However, if you can’t prefer to discuss your cancer with others, you can still choose to sort out your feelings, writing them down, or thinking about them.
You should try to maintain honest and two-way communication with your loved ones, doctors, and others after your breast cancer diagnosis. You will feel isolated if you try to put up a strong front. By expressing emotions honestly to your loved ones, you can all gain strength from each other.
Discuss With Your Health Team:
Ask your health team about ways to help you deal with the changes breast cancer can bring. For example:
- Ask about how to access a Look Good Feel Better workshop in person or online, or request a home-delivered confidence kit to help deal with changes to the way you look following breast cancer treatment.
- In some cases, breast reconstruction or breast prostheses can improve a womans body shape and help improve confidence.
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Relationships With Friends And Family
It’s not always easy to talk about cancer, either for you or your family and friends. You may sense that some people feel awkward around you or avoid you.
Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. However, do not be afraid to tell them that you need some time to yourself if that’s what you need.
Want to know more?
Approaching Friends And Family
Bell told MNT that being able to rely on a good support network is always helpful, even though speaking with the people about ones diagnosis may be a challenge all on its own.
Telling friends and family you have cancer can be daunting, but many people find that having a good support network around them really helps. You may want to tell those closest to you first. After this, you might find it helpful to make a list of who you want to tell. If you like, you can ask someone you trust to tell people for you.
Before telling someone you have cancer, Bell added, think about what details you want them to know. Writing this down might help.
Dr. OMara agreed that it is important for a person to talk about their diagnosis with their nearest and dearest. It may be helpful, she noted, to start with family, and then with friends. She also suggested that some might find it easier to tell just one friend to begin with.
You tell one friend, you tell your closest, your best friend, and you ask them to be the sounding board for you, so youre not spending all of the time on the phone talking to everybody, she said to MNT.
The physical context in which a person talks with others about their diagnosis is also important, Bell pointed out.
Choose a time and place where youll have time to talk without being interrupted, she advised. Try to be honest about what you know its OK to say if you are unsure about anything or cant answer all their questions.
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Testing For Proteins And Genes
The breast cancer cells will be tested for certain proteins called estrogen and progesterone receptors. If the cancer has these proteins, it’s called a hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The cells are also tested to see if the cancer makes too much of the HER2 protein. If it does, it’s called a HER2-positive cancer. These cancers are sometimes easier to treat. If the cancer doesn’t test positive for any of these proteins, it’s called a triple-negative breast cancer.
The cells might also be tested for certain genes, which can help decide if chemo might be helpful and how likely it is that the cancer will come back. Ask your doctor to explain the tests they plan to do, and what the results might mean.