Post Cancer Treatment Life
Life After Breast Cancer
You have shown breast cancer that it can’t beat you. And now, it’s time for you to move to a new stage in your life: one of growth, wisdom and healing. Considering the various facets of breast cancer survivorship–recurrence prevention, treatment after-effects, continued support and more–may seem overwhelming. However, Personalized Breast Care: A Guide for Cosmetic Surgery, Breast Cancer, and Reconstruction (available on Amazon.com) can make the process simpler, as can Dr. Garrett Wirth.
Dr. Wirth is a knowledgeable surgeon who has many years of experience assisting those recovering from breast cancer, and has a special focus on post-cancer breast reconstruction. He co-authored Personalized Breast Care, which has information about each stage of breast cancer, including recovery.
Preventing Recurrence With Examination and Awareness
As a breast cancer survivor, your focus should now be on preventing the disease from returning. The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends that as a breast cancer survivor, you should be examined at regular intervals for the remainder of your lifetime. The suggested schedule encourages examination every 3-6 months for the first 3 years after completing therapy, followed by surveillance every 6-12 months the next 2 years and then yearly. It is imperative that you see a doctor on a regular basis, as early detection can play a lifesaving role!
If you have chosen a breast-saving treatment method, a mammogram should be scheduled for 6 months after radiation therapy. Following this, your mammograms ought to be done every 6-12 months.
Be sure to inform your doctor about any health changes you may be experiencing, such as chest or abdominal pain, trouble breathing or frequent and persistent headaches. You should also monitor your breast health and look for any lumps, swelling, nipple discharge, pain or changes on or around the skin of the breast. If you have any concerns, it is best to speak to your doctor about them rather than to brush them aside. Being proactive about your breast health is crucial.
Healthy Living to Prevent Recurrence
Eating healthily, exercising regularly, and keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum are additional ways that you can prevent breast cancer recurrence. Studies have found that an exercise routine can lessen your risk of developing breast cancer again, as well as reduce your chance of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. You should combine strength training (at least two times weekly) and cardiovascular activity for 150 minutes per week for this prevention method to be effective.
Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet and weight can lower your chance of recurrence, as can limiting your alcohol intake. The American Cancer Society recommends that you consume less than one drink per day.
Sexual and Reproductive Health
Cancer treatments such as hormonal therapy or chemotherapy can sometimes cause infertility. However, there are still many ways to start a family if you so desire. These options include adoption, surrogate mothers or egg donation. There are many options for you to still have the family you have always dreamed of, so don’t get discouraged!
Some women struggle with enjoying sex and overall sexual function after cancer treatment. While this can take its toll on your relationship and happiness, there are options to combat this side effect. Relationship counseling, vaginal estrogen supplements and other hormonal treatments can improve these issues. Speak with your doctor about any recommendations he/she may have regarding your sex life.
Seeking Support and Returning to Normal Life
After beating breast cancer has been your focus for so long, it can be difficult to return to a regular routine. Many find it helpful to join a support network of other survivors who have felt the pain of breast cancer and can relate to the issues that arise in post-treatment life.
Helping others deal with the disease is an excellent way to give and receive support. “Of the nearly 300,000 women who are diagnosed annually with primary breast cancer, you are almost certain to come upon a potential survivor who would you love your help” (Personalized Breast Care, p. 230). Taking part in a race, charity or fundraising event can help you feel a sense of community with the other survivors near you.
For many women, an essential part of returning to normal life is seeking breast reconstruction. Thanks to today’s technology, there are many reconstruction options, such as implants, fat grafting and flap reconstruction. Dr. Wirth will take into consideration the state of your health as well as your aesthetic goals to help you achieve the breasts you desire.
There are many things to consider in post-cancer treatment life, and Dr. Wirth is glad to assist you in any way he can to make your life as a breast cancer survivor easier. Remember, if you can beat breast cancer, you can do anything!