A metastatic breast cancer diagnosis can exact an immense toll on a patient, both physically and emotionally. The weight of uncertainty and fear associated with a progressing and life-threatening condition can lead to overwhelming emotional turmoil. Throughout this journey, patients endure a complex range of emotions, requiring comprehensive support to navigate the intricacies of metastatic breast cancer and foster emotional well-being amidst the storm of challenges.
The treatment regimen for metastasized breast cancer and the subsequent side effects can also add another layer of difficulty when one is trying to cope with their mental health. Research shows that 52 percent of breast cancer patients report at least mild anxiety at the end of chemotherapy. However, there are various factors that can help you manage your anxiety as per your needs, from seeking help where needed to advanced therapy options.
Dr. Krishna Mohan MVT, Senior Consultant Medical Oncologist, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital, Hyderabad “From frequent hospital visits to physical dysmorphia caused. By loss of hair or breast to constant fear of recurrence or death – breast cancer treatment often induces stress and anxiety for patients. Close to 60% of advanced Breast cancer patients have at least one targeted therapy option available. When this knowledge is optimally utilized, a group of patients can avoid conventional chemotherapy for a long. With careful selection of advanced treatments, we can improve quality of life and survival for many Breast Cancer patients. Through advanced treatment methods, patients could also avoid physical and mental stressors caused by traditional therapies.’’
Here are few ways patients can navigate their stress and anxiety while dealing with metastatic breast cancer:
- Choose the Right Treatment for yourself: With every treatment option comes certain side effects. For example, stress can be caused when one loses their hair due to chemotherapy. Therefore, it is important to choose the right treatment plan which aligns with one’s psychological health. It is vital to have extended conversationwith one’s doctor about treatment options. This will aid in comprehending the therapies aimed at minimizing the effects. On their mental well-being and providing insight into what patients can anticipate during their treatment process.
- Seek Professional Support: Engaging with professionaltherapists or counselors, can provide valuable emotional support and coping strategies tailored to individual needs. They can help patients navigate their emotions, fears, and uncertainties, offering a safe space to express feelings and find healthier coping mechanisms.
- Join Support Groups: Connecting with others who are experiencing similar challenges can be empowering and comforting. Support groups offer a sense of belonging, allowing patients to share their experiences, exchange coping strategies, and receive encouragement from others who truly understand this journey.
- Practice Meditation: Mindfulness is being present at the moment, without judgment. By focusing on your breath, your surroundings, and your body, you can reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness techniques can help you stay grounded and calm during difficult times. Try practicing mindfulness meditation, yoga or taking a few deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed.
- Engage in self-care: Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is crucial during this time. Eat healthy foods, perform moderate exercises, and get enough rest. Focus on things that make you feel good, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a relaxing bath. Engaging in self-care can help boost your mood and improve your overall well-being.
- Stay informed but avoid information overload:Staying informed about one’s condition and treatment options is essential, but excessive exposure to overwhelming information can lead to increased anxiety. Striking a balance and relying on reputable sources and your doctor sources can help alleviate unnecessary stress.
Coping with breast cancer is a journey, and it is okay to have ups and downs. Remember, be kind to yourself and take things one day at a time.