Life after breast cancer: How to adjust
Life after breast cancer can be just as fulfilling as before - and for some women it means a whole new beginning
Can you live a normal life after breast cancer? If you’re struggling to cope with your diagnosis and wondering how much your life will change as a result, you might find it hard to believe that many women say it changed their lives for the better.
Despite the trauma of finding out you have a life-threatening disease, the challenges of surgery and treatment, and the fact that you will probably never feel quite the same about your life after breast cancer, the impacts aren’t all negative. Several of the women we interviewed for our articles have said that their diagnosis gave them a renewed zest for life and a determination to make the most of every day.
Be inspired by real-life stories
As you browse through this website, you’ll come across plenty of real-life stories to inspire you. Della Ogunleye explains how she initially lost her joie de vivre through breast cancer but, by committing to help others in a similar position, she was able to find it again. Della was determined to raise awareness within BAME communities of breast cancer and its treatment, as well as helping women in Nigeria defeat cultural taboos about the disease to get the early intervention they need.
Dreaming of exotic holidays but worried about how you’ll manage it now? Far from being daunted by the idea of going abroad after her treatment, [name and link to article] took early retirement and decided to travel the world, reporting that she had the time of her life.
For some women, breast cancer focuses their minds on what is good about living. This was certainly the case for Gaynor Smith, who has been a survivor for over 18 years. Gaynor believes in a positive outlook with a healthy dash of realism: “Help yourself; enjoy life,” she says. “There’s no point in worrying about what could be – you’ve just got to enjoy each day. Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time – it means that on the hard days you know that there are better ones coming.”
Other women have found that a physical response to their treatment has helped them face the future with confidence. We talk to survivors who decided to celebrate their bodies with beautiful tattoos that turn surgery scars into works of art.
Taking care of yourself
Once you’re through the first stages of treatment, you will want to get back the feeling that you have control over your life. We look at how to eat healthily, the benefits of exercise for your general wellbeing and to help prevent recurrence, and the coping mechanisms that will help get you through the first weeks and months back at work.
Finding peace and stillness within can help you quieten the thoughts that can go around and around in your head, and we look at how mindfulness and meditation can help you find the space you need.
We also have articles on body confidence and how to tune into your sensual side – something that many women find daunting after surgery. Intimacy and sexuality are important for our wellbeing, and we talk to women who have rekindled desire after going through breast cancer treatment.
Family and friends will be crucial to your recovery but they are also the ones who – after you – will be most affected by your diagnosis. We look at how to tell people you’ve got breast cancer and how to nurture family life through and beyond your treatment.
A little humour goes a long way towards helping us come to terms with a new ‘normal’, and even the worst outward sign of breast cancer – hair loss – has its funny side, as well as signposting to new beginnings.
You can live a normal life after breast cancer. We hope you enjoy this website and the resources we’ve put together to help you get your life back on track.