Breast Cancer Survivors Tips

Read these 12 Breast Cancer Survivors Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Breast Cancer tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Will my life ever get back to normal after breast cancer treatment?

After Breast Cancer Treatment: Getting Life Back on Track

Your last day of treatment has arrived! Finally, a glimmer of hope that you will be getting your life back. Chemotherapy is over, no more cancer clinic visits -- maybe you will even start seeing some hair soon! But there may be something not-so-satisfying about this moment that you've looked forward to for months now. You might even feel a bit sad and confused. If so, you're normal. You're normal because you've been fighting for your life with your family and friends rallying around supporting you. You've been their focus, and even your own thoughts have been inward toward healing and wellness. Now your focus is turning outward again, and family and friends might not be as available, because, after all, now you're all better, right? Well, yes . . . and no. Oncology treatment is over, but you still have some healing to do, along with physical scars that remind you, daily, of what you've been through to get this far. It takes the human body time to recover from catastrophic illness. Give yourself some grace. Your energy level will return again, just keep your pace slow and steady. Fear of a cancer recurrence may also be lurking behind some of your confusion. You might find yourself poking around your lymph nodes thinking – is that a bump I feel? Was that bump there yesterday? What is that sharp pain in my side? While these feelings are normal, they should not be swept under the rug. Talk to your healthcare team about your feelings at your follow-up appointments. Also, consider joining a support group for cancer survivors. Organizations like The Wellness Community (http://www.thewellnesscommunity.org/default.asp) provide free group counseling for breast cancer survivors and their families, and you'll find other cancer networking groups in the community section of your local newspaper. The last day of treatment is a milestone, celebrate it! But continue giving yourself the time you need to get back into your normal routine.

   
Will I look the same after breast cancer treatment is over?

Breast Cancer: A Look in the Mirror

One thing that really bothered me when I was in the middle of breast cancer treatment were articles suggesting how I could make myself feel better by wearing bright lipstick or drawing eyebrows on with an eye pencil. Don’t get me wrong. Pre-treatment, I never left the house without make-up and hair in place. But I always wondered where the people who wrote those articles for the breast cancer audience were getting their information. The last thing I was concerned about during chemotherapy, when I was vomiting five to six times a day, was whether or not my lipstick was bright enough. For a woman who authored a guide to become a fashion model, I wasn’t looking very fashionable during that time, nor did I care. What I cared about was being a breast cancer survivor, and in the end that’s what’s important. Your hair will grow back, and there will be time to pick the best lip color for the new season. There are also programs that are sensitive to the needs of women in cancer treatment when you are ready, like Look Good . . . Feel Better ® (http://www.lookgoodfeelbetter.ort/). Until then, don’t worry about trying to maintain the same look you had before your breast cancer diagnosis. I’m predicting that you won’t emerge the same person. You will learn from breast cancer that there is something incredibly beautiful about the human spirit, and even more beautiful about the survivor whose triumph allows her to continue her unique contributions that make this world a better place.

   
If my breast cancer is cured, will it come back?

Odds That Breast Cancer Will Return

There is always a chance of breast cancer recurring, but this chance is higher in women whose lymph nodes were initially affected, or who had larger or more aggressive tumors. Most cases of recurrent breast cancer crop up in the first three to five years after treatment, but breast cancer can come back at any time, and not just in the breast.

Breast cancer could strike anywhere in the body, most commonly the lymph nodes, lungs, bones or liver. Since recurrence is always a possibility, you must continue to be diligent about performing breast self-exams and keeping scheduled appointments with your doctor for the rest of your life. Be proactive in asking your doctor about symptoms of recurrence and reporting anything out of the ordinary, not just with your breasts.

   
How does journaling help a breast cancer patient?

A Personal Journal Helps Answer the Hard Questions

Studies have proven that people with cancer have benefited from keeping a personal journal. You don't have to possess special writing skills to keep a journal. There is no need to worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar. A personal journal is just that . . . personal! It is a book written for your eyes only. A trusted confidant. Most breast cancer patients find out really fast that family and friends try to keep the conversation “nice,” avoiding any reference to cancer, but sometimes it's more important to your health to keep the conversation “real.” So a journal is a place to ask questions that you can't ask because they make your family and friends feel uncomfortable. You need to ask those questions. “What if I don't survive this?” “How much more treatment can I endure?” “What did I do to deserve breast cancer?” It's a place to write letters to people that you never intend to send just to get the words off of your chest. It's also a practical place to record your medications, notes about your medical team and treatment, and your breast cancer research. Looking back on what you wrote years after treatment is over will amaze you. You'll remember things that you thought you'd never forget, and appreciate how far you have come!

   
Who survives breast cancer?

Women Who Have Survived Breast Cancer

Breast cancer survivors are everywhere. They are young mothers or retirees. Some are wealthy or poor. They can be found in cities or on farms. They are former first ladies like Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford, actresses like Shirley Temple Black and Rue McClanahan, athletes like Peggy Fleming and Edna Campbell, and singers like Carly Simon and Patti LaBelle, just to name a few.

Breast cancer affects all of us because it can affect any of us. If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, reach out to survivors and to fellow patients. You're part of a unique sisterhood, and with their support, you can fight breast cancer and win.

   
Is breast cancer deadly?

The Odds of Dying from Breast Cancer

In 2005, it was estimated that breast cancer will kill more than 40,000 women and 460 men. But the statistics are not all so grim. A good portion of those 40,000 deaths will happen to women who were diagnosed many years ago, and screening and treatment have vastly improved since then. Certainly not every woman diagnosed with breast cancer will die from it. Quite the contrary, those who catch the disease at its earliest stages face an excellent survival rate - as high as 98 percent. These odds shift significantly for women who had their cancer diagnosed at a later stage, even though in more extreme cases, a woman stands a good chance of still being alive five years from the time of diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, do not reflect on think about the "worst-case scenario". Breast cancer is a highly treatable disease and new advancements are being made everyday. Be positive, expect the best from your treatments, and stay in close contact with your doctor. If, on the other hand, you are currently cancer free, keep up with regular screenings and other preventative measures.

   
How can breast cancer survivors help in the fight against this disease?

Taking Action as a Breast Cancer Survivor

Surviving a disease like breast cancer is a life changing experience. Many breast cancer survivors find fulfillment as volunteers for a variety of cancer-related causes, from fundraising, to increasing awareness about the disease. Survivors put a face on breast cancer and serve a crucial role in the strides being made to lower breast cancer incidence rates and mortality, around the world.

Whether you seek extensive involvement or just want a small role, there are opportunities available for you. Begin by contacting a volunteer organization, such as like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, or a local breast cancer support group in your community. Your doctor's office or hospital will also have details. Regardless of how the disease has changed your life, you can bring out the positive by reaching out to other breast cancer survivors like you.

   
If I survive breast cancer, will I have to live my life differently?

Life After Breast Cancer

A majority of breast cancer survivors continue to live normal, fulfilling lives. At the same time, life after breast cancer is different in many ways. For one thing, there is no "cure" for breast cancer. Survivors know it can always come back, and must find a way to come to terms with this risk. They may also face changes to their body, such as hair loss from chemotherapy, arm swelling due to radiation, or losing a breast due to mastectomy. It takes time to grieve and accept these changes, and for some women, recovery is a lifelong process.

Breast cancer survivors might also be more cautious than the average woman about getting regular checkups, while smart lifestyle choices like a healthy diet, daily exercise, and abstinence from alcohol and cigarettes will be ever more important. These constitute considerable changes to how some women live. Others ride through the changes well, and greet their future with a renewed sense of purpose and hope.

   
Where can I find breast cancer survivors who are willing to talk to me?

Finding Breast Cancer Survivors

The Internet is a great place to look for support and find other breast cancer survivors and patients. Search for Web sites that pull survivors together, like www.y-me.org, and join chat rooms where you can "talk" candidly online about feelings, treatments, and anything else that is on your mind. You can also call toll-free support groups and information hotlines, like Cancer Care Inc. at (800)813-4673 or the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation at (800)462-9273.

Your community may have a breast cancer support group not just for patients and survivors, but also for family members and anyone else affected by the disease. This is not the time to be shy about contacting breast cancer survivors. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many are likely to lend a friendly ear, share advice, or even offer a hug.

   
Will my life ever get back to normal after breast cancer treatment?

After Breast Cancer Treatment: Getting Life Back on Track

Your last day of treatment has arrived! Finally, a glimmer of hope that you will be getting your life back. Chemotherapy is over, no more cancer clinic visits -- maybe you will even start seeing some hair soon! But there may be something not-so-satisfying about this moment that you've looked forward to for months now. You might even feel a bit sad and confused. If so, you're normal. You're normal because you've been fighting for your life with your family and friends rallying around supporting you. You've been their focus, and even your own thoughts have been inward toward healing and wellness. Now your focus is turning outward again, and family and friends might not be as available, because, after all, now you're all better, right? Well, yes . . . and no. Oncology treatment is over, but you still have some healing to do, along with physical scars that remind you, daily, of what you've been through to get this far. It takes the human body time to recover from catastrophic illness. Give yourself some grace. Your energy level will return again, just keep your pace slow and steady. Fear of a cancer recurrence may also be lurking behind some of your confusion. You might find yourself poking around your lymph nodes thinking – is that a bump I feel? Was that bump there yesterday? What is that sharp pain in my side? While these feelings are normal, they should not be swept under the rug. Talk to your healthcare team about your feelings at your follow-up appointments. Also, consider joining a support group for cancer survivors. Organizations like The Wellness Community (http://www.thewellnesscommunity.org/default.asp) provide free group counseling for breast cancer survivors and their families, and you'll find other cancer networking groups in the community section of your local newspaper. The last day of treatment is a milestone, celebrate it! But continue giving yourself the time you need to get back into your normal routine.

   
What can I do to improve my odds of surviving breast cancer?

Improving the Chances of Surviving Breast Cancer

Screening cannot be encouraged enough. It may be the single most important way to improve your chances of surviving if you get breast cancer. Beyond that, work with your doctor and commit wholeheartedly to your agreed upon treatment plan, to get the best results. Believe in yourself and keep a positive attitude, one of the best tools at your disposal. You should also watch your weight. Women who carry extra pounds when diagnosed with breast cancer, or who put on weight during treatment, seem to have increased breast cancer recurrence and mortality. On the other hand, a few hours of regular exercise a week has been shown to improve breast cancer survival rates in women being treated for the disease.

Difficult as it may seem if you are being treated for breast cancer, find time to exercise, and try to keep your weight under control. Reflect on this: After battling with breast cancer, the last thing you would want to do is face heart disease, which kills more women in the United States than breast cancer.

   
What is the Young Survival Coalition?

Young Survival Coalition for Young Women with Breast Cancer

In a study of 45,000 breast cancer patients, it was discovered that the odds of dying from breast cancer rose by 5 percent for every year that a woman was under age 45 when diagnosed.
Since young women with breast cancer are less commonly screened than older women, physicians may pay less attention to lumps in a younger woman's breasts. In addition to higher breast cancer mortality rates, young women with breast cancer also have special issues related to balancing work, marriage and motherhood. These issues may include getting time off for treatment while building a career; problems with self-esteem and sexuality; and worries about fertility and early menopause.
The Young Survival Coalition gives young women faced with breast cancer the benefit of a supportive environment of peers. In 1998, this organization was founded by three breast cancer survivors (all under the age of 35 when diagnosed). The Young Survival Coalition is committed to “advocating to increase the number of studies about young women and breast cancer; educating young women about the importance of breast self-examination and early detection; and being a point of contact for other young women with breast cancer.” Young Survival Coalition is a resource for young women seeking answers and a path to wellness while providing a place to meet others who have gone through similar experiences

   
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