A resource for those affected by breast cancer

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Breast Cancer

Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a life-changing moment in a woman's life. It begins a journey of emotional turmoil that will test relationships and individual strength, but though the future may seem uncertain, there is light ahead.

If you or a loved one has just received news that breast cancer is now part of your life, you’re looking for answers at an incredibly emotional time.

If you find all the breast cancer jargon confusing and something more akin to a foreign language course that you didn’t sign up for, don’t worry, here’s an easy to digest glossary of some of the most common breast cancer terminology and definitions.

The support you receive is essential but some may find your diagnosis more difficult to deal with than others. You can help them give you the support you need and potentially strengthen your relationship with them too.

Your family, including your children, will want to help and support you every step of your journey.

There’s no doubt that you will feel stress after a breast cancer diagnosis and during your treatment, but how you deal with that emotion can have a big impact on your overall well-being.

Surgery and treatment is challenging, even with the support of family, friends and your healthcare team. Being prepared will help you feel more in control.

Do you have something you’d like to share with others about your breast cancer diagnosis? If you do we’d love to hear from you.

Your insight could make a real difference to someone’s life.

Breast Cancer

Treatment

You may have been presented with a number of different treatment choices. Let’s explore the options and what they mean for your future.

Once diagnosed, you are faced with a potentially confusing set of treatment options. Here we briefly outline the options available.

You may find you’re overloaded with information when visiting your doctor, so we’ve compiled a useful list of things to ask about chemotherapy to help you feel in control.

While not everyone undergoing radiation therapy will experience more than the short term discomfort of sensitive skin, or the frustration of feeling wiped out physically, there are some possible long term issues.

For many women, the end of their radiation treatments is the end of their treatment for cancer. It is not, however, the end of their need to know what to expect.

Losing your hair is a very visible sign that you have had cancer and its impact on your appearance can be devastating. In fact women often say that, on diagnosis, the thought of losing their hair was far more worrying than the loss of their breast and many are prepared to go to great lengths to preserve it.

We talk to women about how they struggled to keep their hair on and look at the alternatives for those who can’t.

Lymphoedema affects one in five women who have had breast cancer treatment.

It can develop immediately or symptoms may not appear until months or even years later.

We find out how surgeons, specialists and support groups are helping women to manage the condition.

If you have a particular experience or insight about your breast cancer treatment, that might help other women on this stage of their journey, we’d love to hear from you.

Please share a few words with us. You could make a real difference to someone’s life.

Breast Cancer

Recovery

You’ve had your surgery but now’s the time to be good to yourself. Don’t try to rush your recovery, there’s no fixed timeline and even the smallest of steps are positive moves forward.

Recovering from surgery is not just a physical process; there are significant emotional issues to deal with too. Talking about your concerns is important, so reach out to your breast care nurse, doctor, family and friends, or find a support group, to ensure you get the help you need.

If you are what you eat, then a healthy diet should be a key part of your wellness plan.

In most respects, the advice for breast cancer survivors is similar to that for other women who are interested in optimal nutrition. However, there are a few special considerations during and after breast cancer treatment.

Some pressures are healthy, and even necessary. The adrenaline rush we feel at the start of a new project, or when we have a deadline approaching, helps motivate us. But when we try to do too much, all the time, stress becomes the enemy – quite literally.

Sometimes, relieving stress is about escaping from the everyday and just turning down the volume for a while.

Your treatment is over, and your life is pretty much back to normal. You look and feel good, physically, and everyone is relieved that the worst is behind you. So why are you feeling so anxious?

The right time to go back to work will be different for every woman.

With some simple, practical adjustments it’s possible to work around your treatment and recovery in a way that benefits you and allows you to ease back into your normal routine.

Coming to terms with life when treatment is over, is all part of the recovery process.

What helped pull you through this difficult stage? By sharing your experience you could really help someone else.

Breast Cancer

Living

Recovery will eventually turn into routine as you grow accustomed to your new life.

Breast cancer changes the way you view things – from life’s various trials to the most trivial day-to-day experiences.

After a mastectomy, breast-conserving surgery or even reconstruction, you might choose to wear a breast form (breast prosthesis) or shaper, to help you feel like yourself again.

Breast forms are not just cosmetic; there are important medical reasons to wear them too. A properly fitting form can help prevent lymphoedema, bad posture and shoulder or neck pain.

Overcoming something as emotionally and physically challenging as a mastectomy creates huge changes in a woman’s life. We emerge stronger and more resilient, with a new awareness of our bodies. Inevitably, there’s also a new set of considerations when choosing an outfit.

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, however, there’s no reason  why your surgery should limit the range of your wardrobe,  or hamper your own sense of style.

Because it’s so gentle, swimming after breast surgery is an excellent way to exercise all your major muscle groups, and avoid muscular atrophy that’s sometimes seen in post-surgical patients who remain sedentary for prolonged periods.

When the doctor says it’s okay to begin moderate exercise, swimming is one of the best first steps. Many doctors and swimming experts endorse it as one of the safest and most comfortable ways to get back into exercise.

Using one or more breast forms can give you back the freedom and confidence to live your life the way you want.

Many women ask if they can travel whilst wearing their silicone breast forms. The answer is a resounding “yes,” but there are some things you might want to know ahead of time.

What would you like to share with others about your life after breast cancer?

Your experience could have a positive and lasting effect on other women.

 

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