It can be difficult for others to understand what you’re feeling without going through it themselves. When it comes to breast cancer, your medical team can provide you with a wealth of expert medical advice. But when it comes to the actual experience, some insight may be better understood by talking to other women who have walked the breast cancer path before you.
Fertility treatment – Many times, this step can be overlooked in the process of expediting your treatment. Discussing fertility preservation options before beginning any chemotherapy is important. (1)
Hair Falls – As the follicles die, there can be a painful and tender sensation on the scalp. Many survivors will recommend you shave your head with a close razor as soon as this sensation begins in order to minimize the discomfort.
Weight Gain – You may experience significant weight gain from the steroids. Many people associate weight loss with chemotherapy, but some women have the opposite experience and actually gain weight.
Breast Reconstruction – Don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion. Most surgeons offer or recommend the surgery types they’re most familiar with. They won’t be offended by you getting another opinion, and it will help you come to a decision as a more informed and empowered patient.
Complementary Treatments – More and more, oncologists are recognizing the benefits of holistic and complementary therapies, such as massage, acupuncture, and more. Ask your local cancer support centers or organizations for referrals. Some centers have an integrative oncology program where these services are offered by a team that can communicate with your cancer treatment team. (2)
Life After – When all the appointments are done and you’re not being monitored regularly, it can be hard on your mental health. Sometimes it can feel even harder if those around you are ready to celebrate and “move on,” and you’re not. Don’t be afraid if you find yourself struggling to cope. You’re not alone in these feelings and it’s a good idea to reach out to your treatment team about support services, which may include a mental health professional.
The first-hand experience you will gain by connecting with other breast cancer patients and survivors can help you feel less alone and help you navigate your own cancer journey with support.