Take steps to look and feel your best. Let yourself feel loved and cared for. Talk to your spouse or partner about the physical closeness you need. Discuss your concerns with your doctor or nurse.
Everyone's experience with cancer is different, and your feelings, emotions, and fears are also unique. The values you grew up with can affect how you think about cancer and how you deal with it. Some people may feel that they need to be strong and protect their friends and family. Others seek support from loved ones or other cancer survivors or rely on their faith to help them cope.
Some seek help from counselors and others outside the family, while others aren't comfortable with this approach. Whatever you decide, it's important to do what's right for you and not compare yourself to others. Even though you've completed treatment for breast cancer, your doctors will want to monitor you closely, so it's very important that you go to all your follow-up appointments. During these visits, doctors will ask if you have any problems and will examine you.
Laboratory tests or imaging tests are usually not needed after treatment for most early-stage breast cancers. However, they may be done on some women who have symptoms to see if they are due to the return of the cancer or to treatment-related side effects. The levels of tumor markers increase in some women if the cancer recurs or has spread, so if the level of a tumor marker is high, the doctor may use it to monitor the results of subsequent treatment. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think that the cancer could come back, this could happen.
Many women feel relieved to have finished treatment for breast cancer, but they are also concerned that the cancer will return and may feel lost when they don't go to the cancer care team as often. Many survivors have found that activities such as those described below are useful for treating cancer and their concerns after treatment is over. As time goes by, many survivors report that their fear of the cancer coming back decreases and they find that they think less often about their cancer. Your follow-up program may depend on many factors, such as the type of breast cancer, how advanced it was when it was discovered (the stage of the cancer), and how it was treated (or is being treated).
Just as cancer treatment affects your physical health, it also affects the way you feel, think, and do the things you like to do. If cancer recurrence is confirmed, the doctor may also test the blood for circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or if there are levels of tumor markers in the blood, such as CA-15-3, CA 27-29 or CEA. Many survivors get help from therapists who are experts in depression and in helping people recover from cancer. Here you'll find detailed information on specific types of cancer, including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis and treatment options.
If you're finding it difficult to cope with the emotional situation, you may want to talk to your friends or family about how you're feeling. Breast Cancer Now's Someone Like Me service can connect you with someone with a similar breast cancer experience. You can help reduce the risk of cancer by making healthy choices, such as eating well, staying active and not smoking. Exercise Exercise is a known way to reduce stress and feel less tense, whether you've had cancer or not.
Breast Cancer Now's free Becca app also features stories of people who have had breast cancer. .