Being told you have breast cancer is emotionally devastating. Whatever your initial feelings, you will most likely go on to experience many different emotions over time. The following information below describes some of the emotional effects of breast cancer, and where you can find help and support if you need to.
Coping with a diagnosis of breast cancer
How you feel when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer is an individual thing. Some women might feel frightened about what the future holds for them, while others may feel shocked or angry, or some may be relieved that the cancer has been found and is going to be treated. There’s no list of right or wrong, good or bad feelings and no order you must have them in.
It is perfectly natural to be anxious when you’re coping with a potentially life-threatening illness. Anxiety can have many physical and emotional effects, from making you feel irritable to loss of appetite where you stop eating or you have trouble sleeping.
Feeling low or depressed?
If negative thoughts are interfering with your life and they don’t go away within a few weeks or keep coming back, you could be a sign of depression. Depression is a common condition and can occur at any time during your diagnosis, treatment or after treatment has finished. There are various treatments available for depression including natural remedies. Consult with your healthcare practitioner to see what treatment is best for you.
There are many ways to find help to cope with the emotional impact of breast cancer. Friends and family can offer support, you could speak to your healthcare practitioner or hospital team, or you could try Breast Cancer Care’s services in your area.
Help from friends and family
Don't be afraid to ask for support from those who care about you. It can help to talk about your feelings and try not to distance yourself from people. Talk to other people affected by breast cancer or even start your own support group.
For some people, talking to others who are in a similar situation can help to decrease feelings of anxiety, isolation or fear. Our online discussion Forum has helped many people affected by breast cancer and provides opportunities to share experiences and learn different ways of dealing with problems.
Taking care of your well being
Regular physical activity has many health benefits, but it can also help improve your mood and reduce anxiety and depression. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep may also help you to cope better with stress. Some people try complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy or massage, alongside their conventional medical treatment.
Cancer changes your sense of self and your future. Grief is a normal response as you begin to develop ways to cope with your illness. Your feelings need care too, just like your physical body needs care.