Women with breast cancer undergo many heavy treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy, and, in particular, chemotherapy. Due to all this, many women feel negative and uncertain about their situation. The fear of re-occurrence is always present in women living beyond breast cancer. Although some women make the best use of moments they have by caring for themselves and enjoying life with their near and dear ones, metastasis can always be a risk for them.
Globocan’s estimation suggested that breast cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide (about 1.7 million cases, 11.9%). It ranks on number five as the cause of death (about 522,000, 6.4%) due to the relatively favorable prognosis.
After the treatment of breast cancer, restarting normal activities may not be easy for its survivors. Survivors of breast cancer may feel weak, both physically and emotionally. Living beyond breast cancer is simply dependent upon the quality of life the survivors are getting and how these patients choose to adjust to their situation. There is about a 25% chance of breast cancer to reoccur.
There are a few things the survivors should consider after facing breast cancer:
- A healthy and balanced diet increases the body’s immunity, and therefore one should consider improving his/her nutritional plan after facing breast cancer. Diet does not directly relate to benefiting during breast cancer, but some foods can help prevent various infections and disorders and boost the body’s resistance and build a defense mechanism. Fruits and vegetables, berries, cereals, rice, milk, yogurt, cheese, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes, etc., should be consumed on a routine basis. A healthy diet during breast cancer is recommended by doctors.
- Regular exercises can also help increase energy levels, reduce fatigue, pain, nausea, vomiting, aid digestion, improve sleep, and improve the strength and flexibility of the heart and lungs. Therefore walking, swimming, light-sports activity, gardening, etc. are good options for routine exercises for patients living with breast cancer.
- Practicing forms of relaxation, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing, helps the patient feel calm and positive.
- Routine follow-up is the most important task for people living beyond breast cancer.
- Due to strong treatments, some possible late- or long-term side effects might occur, which should be treated on time after consulting the doctor.
Living With and Beyond Breast Cancer
In the words of breast cancer survivors, living with and beyond breast cancer is not just a phase of life but a journey they go through each day. For women, cancer of the breast affects their identity. Feelings and fears related to their looks, sexual life with their partners, feelings of getting dependent on their caregivers, loss of career, fear of passing the disease to their kids, managing finances for the treatment, etc., are all related to it. Survivors of breast cancer deal with a lot in their day to day life, and each day is a new day with new challenges for them. Living after breast cancer is different, but it can be better than before.
Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer is also called stage 4 breast cancer, which means the breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as in the ovary (ovarian cancer), lungs (lung cancer), liver (liver cancer), brain (brain cancer), bones (bone cancer), etc. through the bloodstream and has resulted in the formation of tumors. It was estimated that patients living with stage 4 breast cancer have about 20% survival rate (in about three years).
Living with metastatic breast cancer is very tough, as good quality of life is possible only for a very short duration. It can last for about a few months or rarely for a few years. The treatments provided during stage 4 breast cancer are often powerful and harsh and may sometimes lead to very strong side-effects. Survivors of metastatic breast cancer should follow established guidelines for good health during breast cancer. They should quit smoking, quit or limit alcohol consumption, eat well, and manage stress.
Facing metastatic breast cancer is emotionally challenging and spirit-breaking. Coping up during this situation is very demanding, and the survivor needs both time and emotional support during this phase. Family and friends play a great role in handling the emotions of the survivor. Sometimes, patients living with breast cancer need counselors and psychologists to talk about their situations to feel better.
The road to survive is not easy, but it is the only way a patient can become a survivor.