While a clean bill of health is a relief for the thousands of men and women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, recovery can also be a difficult and emotional process that is different for each patient.“Some people think of recovery as a something that’s strictly physical,” says Meghan Walker, RN, nurse navigator at the Cancer Center at Paoli Hospital. “There is a physical component, but recovery is just as much emotional and spiritual as it is physical.”
Although every patient’s journey is different, Walker has tips for breast cancer patients to deal with the emotional journey of recovery.
Give yourself time
Recovery is not an overnight process. You may experience emotions that you had pushed back during cancer diagnosis and treatment, like anger, depression and fear of recurrence. None of these emotions are wrong or inappropriate to feel. Give yourself time to address them and understand that emotions like these are part of the recovery process.
Join a support group
It can be difficult for friends and family to understand what you’re going through emotionally. Seek out a support group, either in person or online, where you can express your feelings freely with others in the same situation. Your oncologist can provide you with suggestions.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your co-workers and others close to you may want to help, but not be sure how to. Don’t feel guilty when you need to ask for assistance with errands, cooking, or help around the house.
Be good to yourself
During your recovery, it’s important to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Ask your care team what you can do to keep yourself health, and schedule regular mammograms and appointments with your physician.
“In addition to your physical health, make sure you’re carving out time for yourself,” says Walker. “Take a yoga class, go shopping, have coffee with friends…anything that makes you feel good and relax for a little while every day.”
Through the Holloway Breast Center and its Cancer Center, Paoli Hospital offers a full range of services from cancer prevention to survivorship. In addition, breast cancer survivors and their families have access to complementary therapies such as yoga, nutrition, acupuncture, home care, support groups and more. Visit our website to learn more about our cancer services.