For every 100,000 women, about 125 will get some form of breast cancer (men, although rarely, can develop this kind of cancer as well). Breast cancer is one of the most serious health threats faced by women today. A breast cancer diagnosis can feel shattering, but there are things you can do to help your recovery and reclaim your life.
What Helps Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is treated through a mixture of hormonal therapies, chemotherapy, medications, and surgeries. Another part of managing breast cancer? Taking care of yourself. All of these methods work together to both improve your mental and physical health, which can improve your quality of life.
So, if you have breast cancer, the following are options you can discuss with your medical provider…
10. Estrogen Modulators
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), or estrogen modulators, are commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer. Common estrogen modulators include exemestane (Aromasin) and tamoxifen (Novladex).
How Do Estrogen Modulators Help?
These medications affect the estrogen receptor. Specifically, they bind to these receptors so that new estrogen cannot bind to these sites. Excessive estrogen binding to these receptors can encourage cancer growth. As such, preventing this estrogen-receptor attachments can staunch cancer growth.
This treatment method is sometimes paired with the following…
9. Teletherapy (External Beam Radiation Therapy)
External beam radiation therapy, also known as teletherapy, is one form of radiation therapy that can combat cancer.
How Does Teletherapy Help?
Radiation therapy involves a specialized machine aiming particles (photons, protons, and electrons) at a cancerous growth. Teletherapy is a localized form of radiation therapy. In other words, external beam radiation therapy only aims the radiation at a small section of the body, making it ideal for treating breast cancer.
Just as important as attacking tumors is the following part of cancer management…
8. Mental Health Care
Recovering from breast cancer can be extremely taxing on the body as well as the mind. Those who prioritize their mental health notice a significant improvement in their quality of life.
Why Taking Care of Your Mental Health Helps
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems can make it harder to follow up on your breast cancer treatment program. Taking care of these mental health concerns can therefore give you more emotional wherewithal to power through your treatment. Attending therapy sessions, breast cancer support groups, and other resources can help you through your treatment.
Key to managing mental health is the following…
7. Support Networks
Your family is a support network that is there to help you. Whether it’s a chosen family or biological, they are an integral part of your life and they can be there to help you when you need them most. Family can offer you all kinds of support while you make it through breast cancer.
Why Relying on Family Helps
Family and friends can help you with emotional and social support and perhaps even financial support in some situations. For example, moving in with a loved one can help make the treatment process easier both emotionally and financially.
Another part of your treatment plan is the following…
6. A Healthy Diet
While breast cancer can’t be cured by a healthy diet, eating right can help you to manage your symptoms, boost your mental health, and improve your recovery.
Why Eating Healthy Foods Helps
Both cancer itself and treatments like chemotherapy are taxing on the body. After all, they can cause fatigue as well as dramatic weight changes. Eating healthy foods can help you keep your energy up as well as manage your weight, both of which can also improve your morale. Healthy foods also improve other medical conditions that can interfere with breast cancer treatments.
Eating right and treating your body right go hand in hand with the following…
5. Physical Activity
Staying physically active is a vital part of everyone’s health; this fact is especially true during cancer treatment.
Why Staying Physically Active Helps
There are two primary ways staying active helps. The first is through improving your mood and your outlook. Even mild physical activity produces endorphins, also known as the body’s “feel good” chemicals. This is your body’s way of thanking you for giving it some exercise. Exercise also helps improve your overall health. This can help reduce the side effects of certain cancer treatments and lower your odds of related health problems.
Sometimes, serious surgery is required for cancer treatment…
A lumpectomy is a surgery in which only a cancerous tumor is removed from the breast. In later stages of cancer, though, this option may not be effective in curtailing cancer metastization (spread). In such cases, entire removal of one or both breasts may be necessary. This procedure is known as a mastectomy.
Following a mastectomy, many patients opt for the following optional procedure…
3. Breast Reconstruction and Cosmetic Surgery
In some cases, doctors need to perform a mastectomy in order to prevent the spread of a cancer. Fortunately, there are a few options for people looking to restore their pre-surgery appearance.
Why Breast Reconstruction and Cosmetic Surgeries Help
Breast reconstruction surgery restores the appearance of breasts. Specifically, cosmetic surgeons can add either tissue taken from another part of your body or an artificial implant to the space where the breasts once were. There are other aesthetic options, such as tattoos, that can restore a sense of identity and beauty after a surgery. Some people choose to wear their surgery scars with pride and have even posed on the cover of Vogue magazine to show off their hard-won survival.
At the end of the day, how you approach this deeply personal decision is up to you. It’s all part of how you decide to manage and treat your condition. For those who find that existing treatment options are not working, the following may be appropriate…
2. Clinical Trials
Clinical trials allow patients to access treatments that are not yet approved for widespread use; the results of these trials actually help determine whether or not these treatments receive approval.
A Note About Clinical Trials
In a clinical trial, patients need to be aware that not only may the treatment they receive not help, but—in some cases—it can actually worsen their conditions. Further, not everyone who enrolls in a trial will receive the experimental treatment; instead, they receive a placebo to act as a means of comparing treatment success among those who take the treatment and those who do not.
As such, clinical trials are typically a last-resort option. When cancer treatment becomes overwhelming, the following may help…
1. Taking a Break
Cancer is brutal. That means you need to take it easy, even if you’ve been a busy bee and workaholic your entire life. Whether it’s taking a break from work or asking a loved one to help with chores, relaxing will help your cancer recovery. Not only will relaxing improve your mental health, but it also allows you to expend fewer precious resources that your body needs to fight cancer.