Wilmington Plastic Surgery News & Events

Tips for Staying Positive During Breast Cancer Treatment

Wilmington Plastic Surgery
According to BreastCancer.org, breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed among women in the United States. It’s also the second deadliest cancer for American women, next to lung cancer.

Women in the U.S. have a 12% chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. That means one out of every eight women will have to go through this terrifying experience while still trying to maintain careers, pay their bills, and take care of their families.

Most of us can’t imagine going through something like that, let alone maintaining a positive attitude, and yet so many women come out the other side as victorious survivors. Unfortunately, there are many others who are still fighting. Whether you’re in the middle of your battle or are just beginning, we’ve got some tips for how to take care of yourself, mentally and physically, during breast cancer treatments.

How to Stay Positive During Breast Cancer

A huge part of the breast cancer journey is mental. Going to treatments and trying to maintain some semblance of a “normal” life isn’t just physically hard, it’s mentally exhausting as well. Thankfully, the power of positivity is strong. Making the following steps part of your life can help you through those particularly tough moments:

1. Focus on what really matters to you.

Everyone has different things that they hold dear. For some people, it is their family or their friends, and for others, it is their job or their pets. Regardless of what’s most important to you, concentrating on it can help give you a greater sense of purpose as you go through treatment.

2. Find joy in everything you can.

Little things, like the sound of crickets in the evening or a coworker bringing you coffee, can go a long way toward cheering you up. Even things that used to be ugly or annoying or bothersome to you can become an untapped source of positivity if you think about them in a different light.

3. Let yourself feel.

Sadness is part of the process. So are grief and fear and uncertainty. While thinking happy thoughts is the goal, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your less positive thoughts. All of these feelings are natural. Allow yourself to acknowledge the bad feelings - just try not to dwell on them for too long.

4. Don’t let your diagnosis change you.

Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean you’re a different person. Stay true to yourself and don’t let this disease cause you to lose yourself. Hold on to your goofiness, sense of humor, and all of the other beautiful personality traits that make you... you!

5. Surround yourself with the right people.

Negativity doesn’t just come from you, it can come from the people around you as well. Now is the time to let toxic relationships go in favor of healthier ones. Focus on nourishing relationships with friends and loved ones whose presence is encouraging, supportive, and understanding. These are the people who will be there to help you when you really need it.

6. Stick to your routine.

Try not to let your diagnosis change your daily life. Whenever possible, do the same things you’ve always done in the way you’ve always done them. Not only does maintaining normalcy give you something to focus on, it’s also another way you can avoid letting cancer change you or your life.

7. Don’t feel bad for canceling plans.

Frankly, you shouldn’t feel bad for canceling plans any time, but especially not while you’re undergoing breast cancer treatment. You are your first priority right now. If you agree to go somewhere or do something one day and change your mind the next, that’s A-OK because your friends and family will understand.

8. Try the “glass half full” approach.

Turning negatives into positives is hard, but totally worth it. For example, instead of being bummed that you’re too tired to get out of the house, try being happy that now you have time to binge on that show you’ve been meaning to watch. Instead of being sad that you have to take time off work, be grateful that you won’t have to deal with meetings or annoying coworkers.

9. Keep a journal.

Write down whatever you feel is important each day: your thoughts, treatments, what you ate, etc. Having a record of each day can help give you perspective on bad days and show you how far you’ve come.

10. Adopt a mantra.

It’s very simple: negative words only serve to bring you down, but positive words translate to positive thoughts and energy. It may feel a little silly, but adopting a mantra or saying that you speak out loud to yourself every day can give you that extra little dose of positivity you need.

11. Never lose hope.

Keeping your hopes high means using “when” instead of “if”. It means having goals you want to accomplish. And it means making plans for tomorrow and for five years from now. Hope is focusing on the present while never losing sight of the future.

Self-Care Tips for Breast Cancer Patients

There are plenty of physical things you can do to help keep your spirits up as well. To help you think positively, make sure you:
  • Laugh. Laughter is truly the best medicine. Go to a comedy show, watch a movie, have your friends over for a party - just do whatever will make you smile.
  • Make time for worrying. This sounds counterintuitive but, as we’ve mentioned, hiding all your negative feelings isn’t healthy. Instead, set aside a short period of time each day where you allow yourself to have these thoughts and, when it’s over, get back to the positive vibes.
  • Give hugs. Plenty of studies have suggested that hugs have healing power. Plus, by hugging someone, you might be helping them as much or more than you’re helping yourself.
  • Donate and volunteer. Giving your time and effort to others isn’t just a good distraction, it can help give you a deeper sense of purpose.
  • Pick up a hobby. Whether you’re learning something new or reviving an old passion, hobbies are a great way to pass the time!
  • Accept help. Now’s not the time to be proud. Take your friends and family up on offers to cook, clean, or do whatever else needs to be done. They’re offering because they love you!
  • Get dressed up. Taking pride in your appearance can really make you feel good. Whether that simply means brushing your hair each day or putting on a full face of makeup to go to the store, do it.
  • Don’t do what you don’t want to do. Now’s the time for doing what’s best for you, not what someone else wants you to do.
  • Get outside. You’d be amazed at the wonders a little fresh air and sunshine can do for you.
  • Sleep. Take naps, sleep in… In fact, sleep as much as you want. You deserve it, plus sleep gives your body a chance to rest and recover.
  • Eat well. Make sure you drink plenty of water, take your vitamins, and maintain a healthy diet. That said, it’s ok to treat yourself to a burger or ice cream on occasion.
  • Treat yourself. Take yourself out on a date, go get your hair done, or plan a weekend trip. Having something to look forward to is important.
  • Take a bath. Nothing is quite as healing as a warm bath with some relaxing music and wonderful-smelling candles to help you unwind.
  • Read success stories. Hearing what others have been through and how they have coped with it is a great way to lift yourself up.
  • Talk to someone. You may choose to join a support group or start going to therapy, or you may choose to just talk to a friend. Either way, you need to be able to vocalize your thoughts and feelings in order to cope with them.
To make it through an ordeal such as this is no small feat, but there are plenty of survivors to prove that it is possible.

Unfortunately, many women who have to undergo mastectomies as part of their treatment plans often find themselves feeling a little lost afterward. Remember, the last thing you want to do is let cancer change you. If breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy will help you feel more like yourself, then it’s an option worth considering.

At Wilmington Plastic Surgery and Skin Care MedSpa, our board-certified surgeons have helped many breast cancer patients. We can perform breast reconstruction immediately following a mastectomy or months afterward. If you’re looking for breast reconstruction in Wilmington, NC, schedule an appointment with us to discuss your options and find out what’s best for you.

Back to Blog