Coping with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

First, take a deep breath. While a breast cancer diagnosis can be scary, treatment is available, and your medical providers are here to help.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 300,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year with breast cancer, including more than 22,000 Texans. While this type of cancer is common, it’s also highly treatable, with an overall five-year survival rate of 91%.

When you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, your care team, including your primary care provider and your oncologist, is here to guide you through the entire process from diagnosis through treatment and beyond. 

Still, it’s entirely normal to feel a little overwhelmed when you’re first diagnosed. These steps can help you get your footing.

Get the Facts about Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis

You’ll have lots of questions, and the more information you gather, the more comfortable you’ll feel with the treatment process. Compile a list of questions to ask your medical providers. 

While you might be tempted to turn to Dr. Google for answers, it’s always better to lean on the guidance of your doctors and other providers. They’ll be prepared to provide you with the latest, most accurate information and details about your diagnosis and treatment.

Ask About What to Expect During Treatment

When you first meet with an oncologist, he or she will carefully step you through your treatment plan. This plan will be personalized based on your specific needs and may include treatment options such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of therapies.

The basic details about how the treatment will work logistically will be shared with you, but it’s also a good idea to ask about how the treatment will affect you. This should include how it will affect you physically, mentally and emotionally, as well as how it might impact your appearance.

Let Yourself Feel All the Emotions

It’s normal to feel angry, frustrated, guilty, uncertain and frightened after a breast cancer diagnosis. Let yourself feel — it will help you heal and move forward.

Looking to begin treatment with a positive mindset? Consider a fact that many people don’t know. From the moment you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re considered a breast cancer survivor. Think of yourself in that light as you start your treatment journey.

Take Care of Yourself

During treatment for breast cancer, there are many factors that are out of your hands. But there are some things you can control, including your habits.

While there may be some days where you simply don’t feel up to it, do your best to continue living a healthy lifestyle. 

  • Move your body as you’re able
  • Prioritize getting enough quality sleep
  • Consider meditation or other methods for managing stress
  • Eat a balanced diet filled with fruits and vegetables and healthy proteins

Surround Yourself with a Support System

Research shows that having friends, family members, and others to support you as you go through breast cancer treatment can make a big difference. As you process your breast cancer diagnosis and prepare to begin treatment, take some time to open up lines of communication with those around you.

While you’ll want to lean on your loved ones during treatment, you may also benefit from attending breast cancer support groups or meeting with others who have breast cancer. Being around those who know exactly what you’re experiencing can be empowering and beneficial.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

If you don’t like asking others to do things for you, you aren’t alone. Many people have that mindset from early in life. Now’s a good time, though, to leave that mindset behind.

During treatment and even afterward, you will benefit from having others to lean on. You’re strong and you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. When others ask if they can help, let them. And if they aren’t sure how to help, tell them exactly what you need.

Breast Cancer Care at University Health

University Health is a certified Breast Center of Excellence. Learn more about breast cancer care at University Health on our website.

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