I’m a survivor – now what?
Once you finish treatment, you are expected to go on with your life. You are cured, right?
We all know this to be a joke. The mental and physical challenges of overcoming diagnosis and treatment are astounding. Chemo brain. Neuropathy. Lymphedema. Anxiety. Panic attacks. PTSD.
The never-ending fear of recurrence.
We all go through it. Below are some resources to help you begin to navigate the new life that you have. It is never easy, but you will get through it.
As always, this information is not intended to replace your doctors’ advice. It should merely give you background and help you formulate questions so that you can have more effective discussions with your medical team.
Everyday is a lesson in coping. You will wonder if you are really NED (no evidence of disease). You will wonder if you will have a recurrence. Every pain will set off a panic that the cancer has spread. You will worry about the future. While we are focused on our treatment, there are a multitude of feelings that we bury. But once we have no treatment to cling to, we are forced to cope with our deep-seated fears. Here is some suggested reading for some coping strategies that may get you on the road to moving forward.
Yes, Virginia, there is chemo brain. As a matter of fact, the muddled memory that makes you forget words and experiences can also be a side effect of surgery and radiation as well. You are not crazy. But once you accept that it is real, you can tackle how to keep chemo brain from running your life.
Hot flashes. It seems like many breast cancer treatments cause them. And if you have a hormone positive cancer, you may not have many options to treat them. But that does not mean that there are not options! Read on for information to combat this side effect.
You may have lymphedema, or just be at risk due to the removal of lymph nodes. In either case, you will want to educated on what lymphedema is, what the symptoms are, how it is diagnosed, and how it is treated.
If you had a cancer that was estrogen and/or progesterone positive, your doctor is possibly discussing the possibility of some type of hormone therapy. This can be a confusing and controversial subject. We have included a variety of sources to help give you background as you discuss this topic with your medical team.
Anxiety and PTSD
One common side effect after treatment is anxiety. This can take the form of panic attacks, depression, or even PTSD. The mental effects are just as important to treat as the physical issues. Learn more about symptoms and coping techniques for anxiety after your treatment.
Meditation and yoga
Feeling stress? Anger? Physically weak? There is help here! Meditation and yoga are wonderful coping techniques after breast cancer treatment. They help with anxiety, flexibility and strength training. Here are some resources to get you started.
If you have been treated for breast cancer, you know what it is like to fight fatigue. It seems as though fatigue is a side effect of every cancer treatment and drug. And once you have finished treatment, everyone in your life will expect you to be recovered. Meanwhile, you may be as tired as ever. The truth is that breast cancer treatment takes a major toll on your body. It does not recover overnight, and will need TLC and special attention for while. How do you get started? Read on!
Physical activity after breast cancer treatment is an important component of recovery. It makes you stronger physically and mentally, and can help combat lingering side effects. Talk to your doctors about when to start an exercise program, as well as what type of program might be right for YOU. Here are some resources to give you some ideas.
Health and beauty
During and after treatment, it may be an afterthought to worry about outward appearances. And that’s ok! You are beautiful just as you are! But here are some resources to give you a lift if you need it.