Expert Answers


Emotions


Journaling or Keeping A Diary

Journaling is writing about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns.  Writing and other forms of expressing yourself are good ways that women can help themselves as they heal after breast cancer.  Many people find that writing their thoughts and feelings down in a journal helps them cope with the uncertainty they face, and explore the meaning of having breast cancer.
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Living One Day at a Time

Embrace today!  It is a gift.  Living one day at a time and living each day to the fullest helps women to enjoy their life after breast cancer.  Living one day at a time also helps to decrease feeling uncertain over the future.  If you live in fear of what the future may hold, it will rob you of the joy of today.  If you spend your time worrying about cancer coming back, you have lost today.
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Return of Breast Cancer

Many women who have had breast cancer wonder what the future may hold.  Not knowing what is ahead for them is linked to fears and stress over the future.  Women describe that every ache and pain makes them feel as if their disease is coming back or getting worse.  Because women have many questions about the return of breast cancer, this Tip sheet was written to give you the facts so that you will know more about breast cancer coming back.
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Ways of Dealing With Fears

Feelings of stress, anxiety and depression and having mood swings are common in people who have had cancer.  These feelings are very unpleasant, and often go with fear of cancer coming back.  They may be triggered by the anniversary of diagnosis or going for a routine check–up at the doctor’s.
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Exercise


Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation can help with anxiety and stress.  Some who have had breast cancer feel that relaxation calms and quiets the mind and muscles.  What is relaxing for one person may not be relaxing for another person.  Below are some ways to relax that may help you handle your feelings of fear and anxiety.  Try some of them.
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Learn How Exercise Can Help You Live Longer, Before and After Cancer

Click below to read more.
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Stretches & Exercises

Quite often after surgery and treatment for breast cancer, patients complain of head aches, neck pain, shoulder pain or low back pain.  Along with poor posture and a more sedentary lifestyle, muscles can become tight and out of balance leading to increased pain and achiness.
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Fatigue


Anemia and Fatigue

Anemia occurs when the body does not have enough red blood cells (RBCs).  The RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues in your body.  Hemoglobin is a protein that is found in red blood cells and carries oxygen to body tissues.  When red blood cells are destroyed, your body may make fewer red blood cells.
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Energy Conservation

Fatigue, the feeling of extreme tiredness is the most common side effect of cancer treatment.  Symptoms of fatigue include not being able to focus, not being able to remember things, mood changes and a general feeling of being tired. Cancer-related fatigue has many causes.
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Exercise To Fight Fatigue

After breast cancer treatment, many women have fatigue and are told to get more rest.  But too much rest can result in more fatigue.  You may have put your exercise routine on hold during treatment, or may have never been an exerciser.  If you want to try exercise to fight fatigue or just to stay healthy, here are a few tips that may help.
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Fatigue In The Workplace

Fatigue or feeling very tired is a very common and long lasting side effect of cancer treatment. Some women find that they need to cut back on the time they spend at work for a while, and some find they need to stop working for a time. If you do want or need to keep on working, here are some tips to help make your work less tiring.
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Insomnia And Sleep Problems

Problems sleeping are a common occurrence after breast cancer diagnosis. In some cases you may feel exhausted but not adequately able to rest at night. Sometimes not feeling well keeps you up at night, and sometimes you may feel like you just can’t shut off your mind. But know that most people will experience some level of insomnia or sleep disturbance at some time in their life.
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Medicines That Cause Fatigue

Fatigue, the feeling of extreme tiredness, is the most common side effect of cancer treatment.  Symptoms of fatigue include not being able to focus, not being able to remember things, mood changes and an overall feeling of being tired.  Some medicines may cause the fatigue to get worse. 
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Mental Fatigue

Fatigue, the feeling of being very tired, can affect both your body and your mind.  Mental fatigue affects your mood.  It may also affect how well you are able to organize your day and your ability to focus.  People who have mental fatigue report feeling weighed down.  If you are having mental fatigue, here are some tips to help you cope with its effects:
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Nutrition To Fight Fatigue

A poor diet and or not eating enough calories aren’t the only reasons for fatigue or tiredness, but a good diet can improve your fatigue.  Think of food as a needed part of your healing.  Remember, you need to eat enough food so that your body can have the energy to heal itself.
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Sleep and Wakefulness

After breast cancer treatment, many women have changes in their sleep habits.  Some want to sleep all the time, while others have trouble sleeping.  Most complain of fatigue.  Good habits that promote a good night sleep often help.
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Fertility


Fertility and Cancer: Before Treatment

Being able to get pregnant is a major quality of life concern of young women with breast cancer.  Since you are starting treatment for breast cancer, it is best to understand your options to maintain fertility.  Here are some suggestions:
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Fertility and Cancer: During Treatment

During treatment you may have side effects such as hair loss, tiredness, sleeplessness, appetite changes, weight gain, nausea and vomiting, and bone marrow depression.  These are normal and expected side effects that can be well controlled with medication and other support.
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Fertility and Cancer: After Treatment

After treatment has ended, you may still have some side effects like tiredness, sleeplessness, and anxiety.  These are normal as you are recovering from breast cancer treatment.  You may also be getting back to a regular schedule of work, family, and friends.
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Pregnancy After Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer survivors who want to become pregnant often question whether their cancer history may stimulate recurrence of their disease, and worry that their children may have a higher risk of birth defects and are at higher risk of developing cancer.  You may have these same questions, concerns, and/or worry.
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GENETICS


Genetics and Breast Cancer

One in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. How do you know how likely you are to be that one? It may help to consider the different categories of breast cancer.                                                                                                             READ MORE 

Cancer & Genomics Grand Rounds Live

The risk factors for cancer are many and varied, and inherited genetic mutations play a major role in 5 to 10 percent of all cancers.               READ MORE AND WATCH IT LIVE

 

Lymphedema


Lymphedema (Swelling of the Arms)

Lymphedema is a preventable condition that may affect people who have undergone certain kinds of cancer treatment.  Lymphedema can be a serious side effect after breast cancer surgery (lymph node biopsy or removal) and radiation therapy. It is thought that as many as one out of four women who have been treated for breast cancer will have this problem.
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Lymphedema by Nicole Morris

Lymphedema is a preventable condition that may affect people who have undergone certain kinds of cancer treatment.  A woman who is in treatment for breast cancer is at risk for developing lymphedema when she has had a lymph node biopsy (also called a ‘sentinel node biopsy’), or a chain of lymph nodes surgically removed during lumpectomy or mastectomy.
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Maintaining Health


Eating Healthy

Now that breast cancer treatment is over, it is a great time to eat healthy.  You may have always eaten healthy, or eating healthy may be a change for you.  A healthy diet can improve how you feel and increase your energy level.  Eating healthy is also something positive that you can do about your health.
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Financial Concerns

The cost of having cancer is not the same for each person.  Some people have great insurance that leaves them with few out of pocket costs.  But most people do have some out of pocket costs that may be a burden.
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"Your Medicines"

Many women take medicines for about 5 years to help keep the cancer from coming back (although this time frame may change in the future).  The medicines are used if the breast cancer cells were “estrogen hormone receptor positive”.  The medicine is usually a pill that is taken one time a day.
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Work and Insurance Concerns

Most people who have had cancer decide to keep on working after treatment.  Most return to work with ease.  They are able to keep doing their job like before.
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Getting Active

Now is a great time to begin to take better care of yourself  by getting active.  You may have always been active or being active may be a new change for you.  Some of the benefits of being active may be less fatigue and better energy levels.  Getting active may also help to combat feeling blue.  Being more active is something positive that you can do about your health.
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Preventing Heart Disease

Since estrogen helps some breast cancers to grow, Hormone Replacement Therapy (sometimes referred to as HRT) is not advised for those who have had breast cancer.  Be sure all of your health care members are aware you have had breast cancer.  Talk to all of your doctors before taking any medicines, herbal or dietary supplements to help prevent heart disease.
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Preventing Osteoporosis

Cancer treatment can affect your bone health.  Menopause and hormonal changes may increase the risk for losing bone tissue for some women. Menopause (the change of life) is the body’s natural response to lower amounts of female hormones.  A greater risk for osteoporosis (also called bone loss) comes with menopause.
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Staying Healthy After Breast Cancer

Now that more people are living after cancer, the focus has turned to helping them stay healthy.  These tips will help you begin some healthy habits or to keep healthy habits.
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Metastatic


 

New You


Body Image and Loss Concerns

Body image is the way you view yourself and your body. For some women breast cancer may be associated with a loss of confidence about the way you look and how attractive you feel. The media and our culture tells us that breasts are a symbol of being feminine and being a woman.
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Intimacy, Dating, and Relationship Concerns

Sharing close moments and times with loved ones after breast cancer is important.  Sharing helps others know more about the changes in you.  Enjoying your family and friends is vital in moving on with your life.
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Managing Hot Flashes

Sometimes when a young woman undergoes treatment for breast cancer, that treatment can cause or mimic menopause. These changes may happen for a short time, or may persist longer. 
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Managing Your Bowels

Constipation (having a bowel movement less often than is usual for you) may be a side effect of medicine that you take or it may be associated with the foods you’re eating.
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Reconstruction

Reconstructive (creating a new breast or breasts) surgery after breast cancer is a very personal choice. While not all women will choose to have reconstruction, most women will at least have some questions about it. There are many options available, and may change based upon the treatment you received.
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Sexual Changes

Menopause, also called “the change of life”, is the body’s response to the lower amounts of female hormones.  Drugs used to treat breast cancer can cause the change of life to start early (some women have a brief time without menstruation, and others stop altogether).
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Sexuality

Sexuality and changes that occur in sexual desire are a large part of the ‘New You’ after breast cancer.  It is thought that as many much as 70% of women treated for breast cancer have problems with their libido (sex drive) and sexuality after treatment.
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Undergarment Tutorial

Having breast surgery is never an easy thing, but you can make yourself more comfortable by stopping to consider the undergarments you will need afterwards. You will have special needs – and now there are many options to help you meet those needs.
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Urinary Changes

For some women the menopausal changes (also called the change of life, which can be caused by chemotherapy) that occur as the body’s response to the lower amounts of female hormones include urinary changes.
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Talking to Your Kids About Cancer

Click below to see our graphic on talking to kids about cancer.
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Nutrition


Eating Healthy

Now that breast cancer treatment is over, it is a great time to eat healthy.  You may have always eaten healthy, or eating healthy may be a change for you.  A healthy diet can improve how you feel and increase your energy level.  Eating healthy is also something positive that you can do about your health.
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Losing The Weight

Many women find that they are overweight or have gained weight during or after treatment.  There are some studies that say that being overweight may increase the chances that breast cancer may come back.
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Nutrition and Physical Activity Apps

Track your calories and physical activity on your phone with apps such as MyFitnessPal, ShopWell and Fooducate.
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Pain


Drug / Non-Drug Therapy Pain Relief

When people experience pain, most of the time they have tried something that has worked for them in the past. Many people start with drugs you can get over the counter. Many drugs work quickly, have few risks, and don’t cost a lot.  Different drugs work for different people.
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Soul & Body


Healing Art and Nature

The arts and the feeling pleasure from nature have helped people heal after breast cancer.  Seeking the joy in life, nature, surroundings, and finding an interest in the arts are common after cancer.  Here are some tips about the healing arts and nature to think about:
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Maintaining and Fostering Hope

Hope is always viewing the cup as half full.   After breast cancer many women have a loss of hope.  Once treatment is over, many women feel a return of hope, while others keep feeling hopeless.  Here are some tips to help you get back hope after breast cancer treatment.
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Meaning in Illness

The search for meaning is an effort to understand breast cancer, why it has happened and its impact in your life.  Making meaning of one’s life after facing cancer can be a good experience.
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Spirituality and Religious Practices

Spirituality is a big part of all human life.  It can give life meaning and purpose.  It can exist whether or not a person has any formal religious background.  People who have been faced with cancer often have questions and concerns of a spiritual nature.  You may ask questions such as: Why me?  Why now?
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