Breast Cancer Takes a Physical
and Mental Toll, But There’s Hope

Excerpted from Thriveworks

How Do You Cope With Living With Breast Cancer?

Being diagnosed with breast cancer—or any type of cancer for that matter—can make you feel isolated and scared. During and after these difficult times, it’s crucial to lean on and support one another. Connecting with people who have or are experiencing breast cancer can help boost your confidence and provide you with much-needed support. Finding a community of breast cancer warriors and survivors can serve as the support system that many women need to push through.

Speaking with a mental health professional, both as you go through breast cancer and after, is also an excellent way to process your emotions. With such intense emotions as fear, grief, sadness, depression, and bitterness (among others) stewing within you, it can be hard to get everything you need out. A clinician is there to get you a safe, non-judgmental space where you express whatever you need to and explore how these emotions could be cropping up in other areas of your life.

How Does Breast Cancer Affect You Mentally?

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can come with a lot of challenges, like mastectomies and declining body image. In addition to the physical tolls, there are mental tolls that come with breast cancer, too. Aside from body image, there’s grief, stress, and a journey of self-acceptance and self-love.

It’s hard enough to receive this type of diagnosis, let alone bear the emotional toll it can take. When faced with the decision to have a mastectomy, many things can run through your mind:

  1. Will it work? Will all of my cancer be removed?
  2. Will I be able to love myself and my scars? 
  3. How will I look like a woman after the surgery? 
  4. Will my partner look at me differently? 
  5. What if I go through this and it still comes back? 

You don’t have to deal with these thoughts and fears alone. Others have been where you stand and are willing to help you get through this. For those who have had these thoughts and overcome these hardships, you can be the light and guidance that another woman needs.

How Do You Survive Cancer Emotionally?

As you go through the experience of breast cancer, it’s normal to go through several different stages of grief. It’s not one smooth, straight shot through recovery. Here are some simple ways you can process and manage your emotions:

1. Lean on others.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of leaning on a community of fellow breast cancer warriors and survivors. While the support of our family and friends is important, connecting with others who have experienced breast cancer can aid in building strength and resiliency. Support groups could just be the thing you need to improve your mental well-being. Plus, sharing your survivor stories can be extremely therapeutic.

2. Let it out.

Expressing your thoughts and feelings can be very therapeutic — not just for you, but also those around you that are being affected by your diagnosis. It is important to share your emotions and allow yourself to be taken care of and loved. It can also help your loved ones by opening a space where they can share their emotions (when appropriate).

3. Be patient with yourself.

Another important thing to do is to give yourself time to adjust to the changes in your body and appearance. Practicing self-acceptance and self-love is key, but it’s not something that happens quickly, nor is it something you can force. Working toward self-love and acceptance can be accomplished through mindfulnesspositive affirmations, and surrounding yourself with people and things that bring you joy. 

4. Talk to a professional.

Support from the breast cancer community and your loved ones is essential. However, you might need a little extra guidance and support along the way. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, talking to a mental health professional can offer added help and support. More specifically, counselors and therapists can provide you with effective coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotions and overcoming some of the other mental roadblocks standing in your way of happiness.

Read the full article on the Thriveworks Blog.

Hannah DeWitt authored this piece and is a junior copywriter at Thriveworks.

Quick References

For benefit information, call the number on the back of your insurance card.

Autism Helpline

General Inquiries

Substance Use Hotline

Find a Provider