When You're Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

When you’re diagnosed with breast cancer there are a number of issues that you’ll need to take care of often when you least feel like it. Don’t be afraid to accept the help of friends and family and if you have questions or worries, always ask one of your medical care team to explain things to you.

Telling friends, family and work colleagues

Telling someone that you have cancer is a very difficult thing to do. Many people are shocked and find it difficult to know what to say. Give them time and whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for how they feel about it. Accept that some friends may find it so difficult to deal with that they may begin avoid you. This is their problem and not yours. Don’t waste time worrying over their friendship because the people who do stick around are your true friends. If it’s easier then ask a close friend or family member to let everyone else know. They can also act as an information point because people will want to know how you are at various stages of your treatment.

Understanding your treatment plan

You will be given a team of doctors that will include surgeons, oncologists, specialist breast care nurses and radiographers. These are your team, they are experienced and have seen and dealt with many cases like yours. Remember, they’re used to questions so don’t be afraid to ask them anything you need to know. If you have any questions about your treatment plan then your breast care nurse is your first point of information. If she doesn’t know the answer to your question, she’ll find out for you.

Going in to hospital

For many people having surgery for breast cancer this will be their first visit to hospital. You’ll be given all the information you need before being admitted and again you can ask your breast care nurse if you have any concerns. Take pyjamas that you feel comfortable in for after your surgery but remember you will need to be able to remove them easily for the staff to check your wounds so often button up pyjama tops are best. You might want to take some squash with you to add to the water that you’re encourage to drink and take some magazine or light reading for when you’re feeling a bit better after your surgery. Most wards have a contact number for relatives and friends which you can give to your family and friends should they wish to contact you.

After surgery

After coming home from hospital you will need to take things easy for a little while. Make sure that you have help at home and that you don’t do any lifting or strenuous housework. You’re body will tell you when you’re ready to start doing light chores around the house. When people offer to do things to help you they really mean it so don’t be afraid to let them. It often makes them feel better to be able to help.

Diet and Exercise

When you’re starting to feel better then gentle exercise such as walking will aid in your recovery and make you feel better. Don’t do anything too strenuous. Now is not the time to be worrying about losing weight or keeping fit. The main priority now is to look after you and to get well.

Future fears

There will come a time when your main treatment has been carried out and your cancer care team don’t need to see you quite so often. For some people this can feel a little daunting because you’ve become so used to having regular checks and because you may have fears that your cancer will return. Again, talk to your breast care nurse. She will be able to tell you what to look out for and hopefully allay your fears.

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