September 22, 2022
| RGCIRC Team
From the unfortunate day when you first get to know that you have breast cancer to the last day of your breast cancer treatment, the fight is hard and is likely to drain you both mentally and physically.
Fighting cancer is like fighting a war, which leaves many scars on the survivor. There will be some changes to the body, menopausal symptoms, weight gain, and hair loss because of which adjusting to the post-treatment life might be challenging. But as a warrior, you need to fight and thrive. It will take some time, but with your patience, will and acceptance, it will get so much better soon!
Let’s first understand the inevitable changes and then look at ways in which survivors can spring back to life stronger post-treatment.
Changes in the Body
- Some survivors can feel fatigued for much time after breast cancer treatment as the body would have been through a lot because of the surgery. To handle that, you need to continue to rest, take care of yourself and don’t stress too much! Take charge of your life, plan your recovery process, and decide on things that are very important while leaving the ones that don’t quite matter as much for later.
- While talking about the bodily changes, there will be scars/bruises on the chest area, which can affect the survivors emotionally. It could be even more difficult to accept the bodily changes if a mastectomy procedure is carried out during the treatment as it might give survivors a sense of loss and make them feel incomplete. However, there would be many reasons to pity oneself, ask questions like “why me”, leave hope and cry over it, but none of these will change the new reality and lessen the pain. So, only you can help yourself by staying brave and living through the changes gracefully. Buckle up and make sure your fighter mode is on!
- Some survivors tend to gain weight post-treatment because of certain medications used during the procedure by the radiation therapist and doctors. Other reasons for increased body weight can be increased eating due to stress or changes in routine and inactivity of the body. However, it is highly advisable to take care of your fitness as it will help improve your confidence as well as reduce the chance of recurrence of cancer. A daily 45-minute walk, yoga, and arm exercises in the operated arm can be of great help.
- Hair loss is a very common side effect of chemotherapy. However, you can take relief in the fact that it is only temporary and your hair will start to grow again shortly within 3-6 months.
- Post-treatment for breast cancer, pre- and perimenopausal women might begin to experience signs of menopause. The reason behind this is the changes in hormone production due to chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Some of the symptoms include night sweats, loss of desire, hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and discomfort. In case you feel troubled because of these signs, you can seek consultation and help from counselors and healthcare experts.
- The surgery and subsequent changes in the body make many survivors feel less confident and low in self-esteem because of which many women wish to restore their appearance. This is where the process of breast reconstruction can help them get back their confidence and enable them to live a happy and dignified life.
Back to Work
- Getting involved in the work you like to do can help you heal faster like nothing else. It will help you stay focused, happy, and worthy. So, you can discuss with your oncologist the right time to get back to work and restart your life.
Finally, the hard part of the battle is to deal with and overcome the stigma that follows breast cancer. You don’t need to try hard to be accepted by everyone. Just be open to confiding in your loved ones as feeling shame and isolating yourself will only make things more difficult.
So, accept your fight and the scars it has left and take pride in bravely overcoming cancer. Also, make sure to reach out to family, friends, or counselors at times when you feel low. Always remember that reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness but immense strength!