Living With Breast Cancer

Living With Breast Cancer

Living With Breast Cancer
If you're going through treatment or know someone battling breast cancer, there are resources available to help. For male and female breast cancer patients, it can be a challenge on a daily basis, as there's not only physical pain to deal with, but also feelings of anxiety or fear. Groups for breast cancer patients, friends and family can help provide psychological and spiritual support. A person's sex life also changes during breast cancer treatment -- but it's worth exploring options to help maintain your self-esteem and keep stress low. On a daily basis, regular exercise and a healthy diet can have a positive influence on breast cancer treatment. Learn more about living with breast cancer with expert advice from Sharecare.

Recently Answered

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    Concerns about sexuality are often very worrisome to a woman with breast cancer. Several factors may place a woman at higher risk for sexual problems after breast cancer. Physical changes (such as those after surgery) may make a woman less comfortable with her body. The most common sexual side effects stem from damage to a woman's feelings of attractiveness.
    The breasts and nipples are also sources of sexual pleasure for many women. Treatment for breast cancer can interfere with pleasure from breast caressing.
    Some treatments for breast cancer, such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy, can change a woman's hormone levels and may affect her sexual interest and/or response.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Should women who have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer avoid high fat milk products?

    Hormones from cows are concentrated in the fat. The increase in hormone levels is not good for women who have been diagnosed and treated with breast cancer, says Robin Miller, MD. Watch as she explains why it's better to choose low-fat milk products.


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    A , Plastic Surgery, answered

    After your breast cancer surgery you will either be wrapped with a bias surgical dressing or placed immediately into a compression brassiere. In my practice, our breast surgery patients are always wrapped with 8-inch bias wrap dressings, gauze sponges, and steri-strips to the incisions. On the first post-operative day, the dressings are removed and a Dr. Linderbra is placed that allows both compression and comfort to the patient. 

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    Breast Cancer Awareness: Surviving Cancer
    This Discovery Health video features the story of a young woman who survives breast cancer and becomes an advocate for breast self-examination.

     
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    A Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of
    Absolutely! There is extensive research on the role of nutrition and breast cancer. The foods that you eat will have a significant impact on the disease. A registered dietitian in your area can help you do this. Find an RD at www.eatright.org
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    Mind-body medicine programs help you cope with the emotional and psychological stresses of breast cancer. Mind-body medicine explores the influence of your mind and emotions on your body and immune system, and vice versa.

    Your mind-body therapist will provide an assessment and then work with you to integrate any of the following therapies into your breast cancer treatment plan:
    • Individual and relationship counseling sessions
    • Cancer support groups
    • Relaxation and guided imagery training
    • Stress management
    • Laughter therapy
    • Reiki therapy
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    Fatigue is a very common symptom in people being treated for cancer. This is often not an ordinary type of tiredness but a "bone-weary" exhaustion that doesn't get better with rest. For some, this fatigue lasts a long time after treatment, and can make it hard for them to exercise and do other things they want to do. But exercise can actually help you reduce fatigue. Studies have shown that patients who follow an exercise program tailored to their personal needs feel better physically and emotionally and can cope better, too.
    Any program of physical activity should fit your own situation. If you haven't exercised in a few years but can still get around, you may want to think about taking short walks. If you are very tired, you will need to balance activity with rest. It is OK to rest when you need to. 
    Talk with your health care team before starting, and get their opinion about your exercise plans. Exercise can improve your physical and emotional health.

    • It improves your cardiovascular (heart and circulation) fitnes
    • It strengthens your muscles.

    • It reduces fatigue.

    • It lowers anxiety and depression.

    • It makes you feel generally happier.

    • It helps you feel better about yourself.

    The role of exercise in reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence (cancer coming back) is not well-defined, but several recent studies suggest that breast cancer survivors who are physically active may have lower rates of recurrence and death than those who are inactive.
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    Because of the complex nature of cancer-related pain, successful pain management usually involves a combination of techniques to seek a balance between pain relief and quality of life.
    • One therapeutic approach, pharmacological pain control, involves the use of medications. Some common breast cancer pain medications include anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics and steroids.
    • In addition, breast cancer patients often experience neuropathic pain, particularly after breast cancer surgery. Your pain management practitioner will consult with other members of your care team to provide nerve injections, implanted pain pumps or nerve stimulation devices like transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) to help promote nerve regeneration.
    • Other breast cancer pain control options may include palliative treatments to improve your comfort and quality of life. For example, for breast cancer that has spread to the liver, radiation therapy may help to reduce the size of the tumor on the liver. If you experience pleural effusion (abnormal fluid build-up around the lungs), a thoracentesis can drain fluid that surrounds the lungs and help you breathe better.
    Aside from your oncologists, your breast cancer pain management practitioner will also consult regularly with the complementary medicine clinicians in your care team to balance pain medicine with supportive options, such as oncology rehabilitation therapies, naturopathic medicine and mind-body medicine.
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    Breast cancer recovery can begin a couple of days after surgery. It starts with gentle exercises for the first six weeks. These exercises will relieve some of the pain and prevent scar tissue from forming. All exercises should focus on breathing because this will help to relieve some pain. After six weeks, the exercises should begin to focus on building strength. Strength building will help you improve your range of motion. Your doctor or surgeon should approve all exercises before you begin.

    To keep your arm and shoulder from getting stiff, try to exercise twice per day. Slowly begin to reintroduce daily activities such as yard work, laundry, or driving when you feel your body is capable. If you experience any pain, immediately stop the activity.

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    A , Women's Health, answered
    Keep a notebook or journal. As you think of questions, write them down. This eliminates the stress caused by you trying to remember too many things. Use part of the notebook to keep track of dates and types of tests and treatments. Use part of the notebook to track lab results. Keep the names, addresses, and contact phone numbers of anyone involved in your care in the notebook. Bring the notebook with you to all of your appointments.