Facing Breast Cancer – How to Help Your Doctors Help You
HOW TO HELP YOUR DOCTORS HELP YOU
Keeping a Positive Attitude in Breast Cancer
Dealing with the Shock and Disbelief
A diagnosis of breast cancer is devastating. The life you had tight control over suddenly disintegrates and you feel totally helpless. Your doctors will have a plan for you and you need to help them do their work of making you well again. Once you know that someone has a plan for your medical care, you can leave this side of things to them and allow yourself to move on and decide what to do with your time and energies whilst treatment is taking place.
Follow their instructions. Trust your doctors. Ask your doctor questions that are relevant to you and your immediate treatment by all means but don’t start to wonder if your doctor has got it right. Don’t surf the internet until your eyes hurt. There is a lot of information there but you are you and things you read may not be relevant to your case and may worry you unnecessarily. Everyone is different and just because something happens to one individual doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the same for you.
A lot is talked about positive attitude but actually you need to transform this into positive action which, in turn, will help your doctor to help you. You can play your part by having your own plan of action to get you through the long, difficult road through treatments to recovery. Deciding that you will create a positive environment in which your treatment can take place is the starting point.
There has been much debate about dealing with a diagnosis of breast cancer. What follows below is just one person’s way of looking at it.
Ten Point Positive Action Plan
- Stay independent. Don’t allow others to make you into an invalid. Drive yourself to and from your chemo and/or radiotherapy sessions. You can rest when you get home.
- Make plans. This is a time when you could learn a new skill like writing poetry, cooking, painting, caring for house plants – the list of possibilities is a long one.
- Do an on-line course that will give you some kind of qualification at the end. It might take longer than normal but keep chipping away.
- Set yourself a plan for each day. You may not spend the time you would have liked but don’t just take to the sofa. Keep active within your limitations.
- Get up at your usual time each day, get dressed and put on your make up every day. Maybe you will go to bed early in the evening but give your day structure.
- Start to meditate. Meditation is not a mysterious or difficult as many would have us believe and it can have a very soothing effect at such a stressful time.
- Change your vocabulary (and that of others). People might tell you that you are ‘brave’ but is wanting to survive brave? Avoid words like victim, battling, fighting. These suggest an outside influence. What is going on is going on inside you. Changing to words like resistance, overcoming, curing is much more positive. Tell people how you are when they ask by all means but don’t give them every detail of your treatment. They care of course but it doesn’t benefit you to keep rehashing how ghastly you might feel on certain days. This does not serve you. In the long term your treatment will be of benefit for you, so see it as such.
- Keep a sense of humour if you can. This is not to make light of what is happening to you but rather to switch the focus if only for a few moments to something lighter. If you’ve lost your hair, start to plan how you will wear it when you have a full head again. Consider yourself fortunate to have this opportunity to start from zero!
- Read all those books you’ve been promising to read. Take a book with you to your chemo or radiotherapy sessions. It may feel as though you are hiding behind a book but try not to get involved in other people’s stories when you attend sessions. Each case is different and yours is not like anyone else’s so don’t let listening to their experiences colour your own thinking. You will be amazed at the number of books you can get through.
- Look forward. Think of all the things you are going to do when treatment is complete. Writing your list down makes it much more real and you will be delighted in the months following your treatments by how many things you are achieving and enjoying.
Why be positive during breast cancer treatment?
Treatment for breast cancer may mean chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy or some combination of these. Let’s not pretend that the road is easy but thinking positively and backing it up with action allows you to maintain some power over your life and feeling powerful is a very good feeling. So, you are not battling with cancer or fighting it, you are quietly taking back control and doing your part while your doctors do theirs.