Breast cancer is a difficult diagnosis to hear, a difficult illness to battle. It’s hard on the mind and the emotions––not just the body. It’s by no means just physical.
So why do we so often focus on just the physical aspect? Did you know your mental health directly impacts your mortality rate? Mortality rates are up to 39% higher in those with depressive symptoms or being diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
Breast cancer affects your mental health…
- Whether you catch it in Stage I and receive an excellent prognosis,
- Whether you undergo multiple surgeries including mastectomies,
- Whether it’s metastatic and you’re told you can live with it successfully for a long time, but it will never be cured, or
- Whether you are the loved one walking alongside someone in their breast cancer journey,
Mental Health While Fighting Cancer
Focusing on your mortality can make being present in the life you do have very difficult. You also have likely experienced changes in your appearance or perhaps even your relationship with yourself as a result of treatment.
If you do not or cannot talk about the challenges you’re facing, it’s hard to move beyond them. It’s okay to talk about what you’re afraid of, what you dislike, or what you don’t understand. It’s okay to be vulnerable and real. That’s where healing takes place.
Mental Health After Cancer
Your doctor has declared you cancer-free. So why are you still dealing with mental and emotional ramifications? You’ve gone through something extremely traumatic. In fact, a study in Munich suggests most women experience at least some form of PTSD. The anxiety or fear of recurrence along with the PTSD of what you have gone through mentally and physically could be overwhelming and even crippling to daily life if not addressed. You may even feel guilty.
- “Why am I so unhappy? I should just be grateful to be alive.”
- “Why did I survive and another person didn’t?”
- “What if the cancer comes back?”
All of these emotions are valid and real. Having a healthy outlet and a safe place to process them is important.
Mental Health and the Caregiver
If you are the loved one, particularly the spouse, of someone diagnosed with breast cancer, it changes you, too. It is hard to watch the person you love go through something so impossible. You may feel helpless. You do everything in your power to help them. Then you feel guilty for feeling tired or sad or just emotionally and mentally spent. You are at the end of yourself, yet you don’t feel allowed to be sad because it’s not even your cancer.
Reach Out for Help
Regardless of where, or even who, you are in the cancer journey, you are not alone. And you don’t have to be. There are things you can do to heal mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
- Reach out to a mental health professional.
- Talk to your friends and family members.
- Find a breast cancer support group.
- Find a caregiver support group.
- Stay active.
- Remain involved in the things you love.
- Be honest with your physician.
- Contact the team at Pretty in Pink Boutique.
With the advent of technology, you can even find online support groups and phone or video therapy options, such as Talkspace. Don’t let time, convenience or even the need to protect your immunity through distancing keep you from seeking virtual help.
Remember, there are no bonus points or medals for doing it by yourself. You may not be able to directly control the cancer, but there is a lot you can do to help your mental health. Fight for your physical and mental wellness. Let’s talk about it.