Breast Cancer Coping
By Annette E. Barton, ACSW, BCD
Breast cancer can affect every aspect of your life by impacting your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Breast cancer surgery and treatments can create pain and discomfort. You may feel less attractive after a mastectomy, radiation or chemotherapy treatments. You can begin to think differently about yourself and the world around you. You might feel frightened, alone, depressed, angry and alienated and question why this had to happen to you.
Breast cancer can also provide opportunities for positive changes. This can become a time to slow down, evaluate what is important in your life, and learn how to really nurture yourself. These strategies are offered with the hope that you can find a better way to live with your cancer.
Many studies have shown the importance of diet in a healthy lifestyle. Several dietary changes have specific relevance to breast cancer.
Reduce your fate intake.
Lower your sugar intake.
Limit or eliminate your alcohol consumption.
Increase the consumption of soy-based products.
Eat more cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and collard greens.)
Lactobacillus Acidophilus is a helpful bacterium that acts as a probiotic for your system. It helps your body to produce its own form of antibiotics. You can obtain capsules of this from your health food store.
Consider supplements of antioxidant vitamins and minerals such as selenium and coenzyme Q10.
Increase your dietary fiber by eating more whole foods.
Treatment for breast cancer may cause discomfort. You can utilize these techniques for assistance.
Imagery is a powerful tool to assist with pain management. Practice imagining yourself in a pain-free state, or mentally place yourself in a pain-free setting.
Distract yourself by focusing on something else. Read a good book; watch a humorous movie; talk with someone you care about.
Some people report a reduction of nausea by drinking mint tea.
Practice some form of relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training.
Breast cancer can cause a woman to feel less attractive. There are many things which you can do to decrease this possibility.
If you are going to have chemotherapy, buy an attractive wig and start to wear it before you receive your treatments.
Obtain soft and silky camisoles to wear as you are healing.
Treat yourself to a make-up session and/or a manicure.
Find comfortable clothes that you find attractive. You may want to look for tops that are soft, full and flowing.
Consider using Vitamin E oil on any scars. This can aid in your healing and may help to eliminate the possibility of cheloid scar tissue developing.
You may be very tired when you undergo treatment. You can speed your healing time by strengthening yourself with movement and exercise.
Take walks and gradually increase the amount of time you walk each day.
Stretch your body so you don't become stiff and sore.
Practice yoga and be sure to start slowly if you are not very limber.
Try tai chi, which is a slow and graceful centering technique used by martial artists.
Pay attention to your body and rest when you need to rest. Your body is utilizing much energy in its healing.
Breast Cancer can severely alter how you think about yourself and the world around you. It is beneficial to practice positive mental attitudes.
Remember that breast cancer does not alter your value as a woman/mother/wife/person.
Practice stress management strategies such as rational thinking.
Focus on appreciating those things in your life that you value.
Write in a journal to sort out your thoughts.
Visualize your tumor shrinking. Draw your image to further assist you in this process.
Examine where your attitudes can be improved and enhance these areas.
Larry Dossey, MD and others have focused on the positive use of prayer with healing. Consider adding this practice to your life.
Consider practicing some form of meditation. This has been shown to reduce stress, increase relaxation, and improve one's spirit.
Create a sacred space where you can focus on your spiritual practices.
Ask yourself what nourishes your spirit, and incorporate these things into your life.
Practice loving your body and your breasts. They are not your enemy. They are working with you to heal.
Learn to effectively resolve your emotional challenges.
Use a journal to process your feelings.
Find ways to laugh every day.
Work through your feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, fear, anxiety, and depression daily. Never go to bed with a grudge.
Do not blame yourself for your cancer.
Allow yourself to receive nurturance from others.
Talk to a professional psychotherapist for further help.
Baker, Nancy C. Relative Risk. Living with a Family History of Breast Cancer. Penguin Books, New York, 1991.
LeShan, Lawrence. Cancer As A Turning Point. Penguin Books, New York, 1994.
Love, Susan. Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1990.
Northrup, Christiane. Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom. Bantam Books, New York, 1995.
Shealy, Norman, C. and Myss, Caroline. The Creation of Health. Stillpoint Publishing, Walpole, NH, 1993.
Simonton, O. Carl. Getting Well Again. Bantam Books, New York, 1978.
Siegel, Bernie. Peace, Love, and Healing. Harper & Row, New York, 1989.
Weil, Andrew. Spontaneous Healing. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, 1995.
© 2005-2007, Annette Barton, ACSW, BCD
The information provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or in any other way substitute for the assistance of a professional.
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