We present invaluable lessons shared with us by women who have overcome breast cancer …
# 1 Cancer can confuse your head
Investigations do not end when the diagnosis is made, as doctors need to know as much as possible about your cancer so that they can begin to treat you appropriately. Waiting can be especially stressful in this case, but you shouldn’t let it completely overwhelm you. If you spend all your energy preparing for bad news, you may not be able to face the good.
# 2 The disease also affects the partner
At the moment of diagnosis, your life stops and the worst battle of your life begins. But you are not alone in it. It’s hard for your partner at this time, too, as everything revolves around your cancer, there’s virtually no sex life, and at the same time, there’s nothing you can do to help you. And it is this feeling of helplessness that partners and family members of sufferers often describe as one of the more serious parts of life with someone who has cancer.
# 3 It’s hard to be liked
If your treatment also includes chemotherapy, chances are you will feel anything but attractive. You may lose hair and / or eyebrows, peeling of the skin, and patients often report sadness and loneliness. It is very easy to get the feeling that you have been left without an identity.
# 4 Anxiety becomes a common condition
Anxiety is not uncommon at the time of dealing with the disease, but it can be (further) aggravated by chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and some pain medications. In this case, the anxiety may worsen over time, you may feel chest pain, sleep problems or nightmares. If you feel anxious all the time and can’t relax at all, talk to an oncologist who may prescribe antidepressants.
# 5 Loss of libido
This is a topic that is rarely talked about. Especially in young patients with breast cancer, there is often a change in self-esteem and a loss of a sense of femininity. Treatment can also reduce libido, make the vagina dry, and intercourse painful. Talk to your doctor about the problem, and the use of a lubricant often helps.
# 6 Did I take all the medication?
During chemotherapy, the brain does not function ‘properly’, so forgetfulness and confusion can often occur. If your doctor has prescribed several medicines that you need to take at different times, mobile applications (such as Medisafe) can help you remind you when it is time for which medicine.
# 7 Small things
They are important! When you become a patient, small things gain weight. You will feel much better if the nurse introduces herself to you and tells you what to expect. This will give you the feeling that you are not just a number.
# 8 Sometimes the patient knows best
If you feel something is wrong, or are interested in learning more about new treatments, stand up for yourself and demand answers. A good doctor will listen to you, answer your questions and try to find the best solution for you together.
# 9 Eating during chemotherapy can be very challenging
Loss of appetite is possible during treatment, and your favorite food may not ‘smell’. A booklet can help you choose the right diet Diet and cancer: What to eat if we get sick, published by the Slovenian association Europa Donna.
# 10 Exercise can help
You will probably need to tackle it slowly, but even the simplest exercise can help you with the side effects of chemotherapy.