Caring For Yourself While Battling Breast Cancer – 6 Ways To Smoothen Your Road To Recovery
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. According to the World Health Organization, Breast Cancer impacts 1.5 million women each year. The good news is, breast cancer can be treated, and many people have overcome the disease emerging stronger than before. Undeniably, the road to recovery is going to be a rollercoaster of emotions, but here are some things you can do to manage the everyday challenges of the fight against breast cancer.
Dealing with hair loss
One of the first few physical changes you’ll experience during chemotherapy is the shedding of hair in clumps. This is difficult for anyone to accept at first, but more so for women.
As your locks start thinning, switch to milder hair products (e.g. organic or baby shampoo), minimise brushing, and avoid heat-emitting tools like hair dryers to reduce unnecessary stress on your tresses. Some people choose to shave all their hair off at once so that they don’t have to go through the painful process of watching it fall bit by bit.
To boost your confidence, you might want to consider getting a wig close to your natural hair shade and texture – or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, experiment with different colours and styles for a fun spin!
Accepting your new post-mastectomy appearance
Consider waiting a few days before looking into the mirror after surgery to get your mind used to the idea of your changed body. Depending on your preference, you may want to have a loved one with you when you take that first look.
Naturally, losing your breasts will be upsetting because it might affect how you view your own femininity. Some ladies opt for breast reconstruction surgery to reshape their busts – Angelina Jolie did just that after a double mastectomy. A non-invasive alternative would be to use breast prosthetics when out.
But of course, there is nothing wrong with deciding to go flat if that is something you are comfortable with – many women have done that. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the size or presence of your breasts do not define your womanhood, and the people who truly care about you won’t think any less of you post-surgery.
Finding support from those close to you
Having breast cancer and going through breast surgery is a very personal affair, and might affect you emotionally more than any other operation would. Try to open up to your most trusted family and friends to get some weight off your shoulders. If you know a breast cancer survivor, it might be good to talk to them too.
That said, it is okay to not share your journey with just anyone if you don’t feel comfortable with it – simply say, “I don’t wish to talk about it right now, and hope you can respect my privacy”. Tell your confidantes not to spread information without consent too.
Using the right skincare products for your post-treatment skin
Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can have side effects on the skin like redness, itching, and inflammation, but using the right skincare products can do wonders in soothing your skin. Organic products are the best choice, since they don’t contain harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances that will further aggravate your skin condition. Your body is already fighting so many nasties on a daily basis, and harmful chemicals will only add to its burden.
It would also help to wear softer and airier clothing to minimise irritation.
Dealing with nail changes
Just like how it can affect your skin, chemotherapy might also affect your nails, causing them to be dry, brittle, or bruised.
Don’t pull at dry cuticles or tear at the skin around your nails – this will only put you at higher risk of infection with more chances for germs to enter. Instead, use cuticle oil and moisturise your hands regularly. Trim nails regularly and keep them short for cleanliness. If you get an ingrown nail, soak it in warm water and ask your doctor for an antibiotic cream.
It’s best to avoid manicures at salons as the tools used may not be the cleanest. If you’d like to add some sparkle to your digits, go for a strengthening nail polish for applying on your own at home. This will not only hide the blemishes and bruises on your nails but also reduce chances of them splitting. When removing nail polish, use a non-acetone remover as it’s less drying.
Get the right nutrition
Maintaining a good diet is vital for staying healthy. Eat lean proteins like fish and chicken, and reduce your intake of processed meat like ham and sausages as they are full of cancer-causing preservatives. Leafy greens and fruits are always good as they are chock full of vitamins and antioxidants that prevent cancer. Starchy food high in refined sugar like cakes and white bread should be switched out for healthier alternatives like whole grain bread or brown rice.
Exercising to stay fit and feel good
Regular exercise is not only vital in staying healthy; it also produces chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Set yourself little challenges to accomplish once you feel well enough to get active again – for example, hitting a certain walking or jogging distance a few times a week.
Your body is more than your breasts; it is a strong vessel that is on the road to recovery, and is capable of so much. Love your body, be proud of it, and treat it well!
Life after breast cancer
The fight against breast cancer won’t come without challenges. But if you can keep your chin up and face the disease with an optimistic approach, you’ve already won half the battle.
It doesn’t matter whether your victory from the ordeal leaves you with both breasts, one breast, or none at all. Because beyond what is physical, what’s most important is that your fighting spirit and inner beauty prevail.
For all those who are currently battling breast cancer, we urge you to focus on yourself and your healing process, try to be positive, and celebrate the little blessings in life. As the saying goes, “you are stronger than you know…braver than you think and more loved than you can imagine.”