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Breast Cancer & Mental Health

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We wanted to shed light on how such a diagnosis can play a roll on a patient's mental and emotional well-being.


The emotional turmoil cancer brings can begin even before the diagnosis is made official. The uncertainty before and during the diagnostic period of breast cancer can cause some of the highest points of anxiety in a person. There are several coping mechanisms that are proven to be successful when practiced consistently.

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis has the potential to cause a variety of wild emotions. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are prevalent. Between forming lots of new relationships with doctors and medical teams, there is a lot of information being shared; this can cause the patient's brain to feel as if it is in a state of shock. Anxiety may come in the waiting periods of scan results. Oftentimes, our brains resort to either an all-or-nothing mindset or catastrophizing, leading to more anxiety and stress.


Whenever you experience any or all of these emotions, you do not have to feel guilty or as if you should not be feeling these things. This may be one of the hardest life experiences you ever face. As you progress in your journey, the more you will be able to control and regulate your stream of emotions.


Helpful coping techniques to calm your emotions recommended by healthcare professionals include:

  • Breathing exercises

  • Massage therapy; whether done by a professional or by yourself.

  • Acupuncture; either done by a professional or by yourself through accu-point massage.

  • Bibliotherapy, more commonly known as book therapy. Grab a book and get lost in the narrative.

What helped you through rough times before your cancer diagnosis can help ease your worries now. This may include a close friend, religious leader or a favorite activity. Turn to these comforts now. Always be open to trying new ways to deal with your cancer.


Try:

  • Sharing your feelings honestly with family, friends, a spiritual adviser or a counselor.

  • Keeping a journal to help organize your thoughts.

  • When faced with a difficult decision, listing the pros and cons for each choice.

  • Finding a source of spiritual support.

  • Setting aside time to be alone.

  • Remaining involved with work and leisure activities as much as you can.

One of the most important ideas to remember when faced with a major health diagnosis is to be ready to say "no" to other people. This is an important time in your life to focus on yourself.


Finding mental stability during this time is of utmost importance, and this may require stepping back from catering to others. Remember that this is only a season, and that your priorities will have to shift for the time being!



 

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