Receiving the Diagnosis

Shock. Despair. Rage.

These are the emotions that are likely to envelop a woman who has just received news of her breast cancer diagnosis. The psychosocial effects of a cancer diagnosis is a matter that is often overshadowed by the physical impacts of cancer. Many women may not know where to turn for help. Distress will persist even after the initial devastation and confusion surrounding a diagnosis. The lengthy treatment process can appear daunting, and women are likely to encounter new challenges along the way. Whether that is feelings of constant exhaustion or disturbances in one’s personal relationships, these factors serve as major contributors to the development of anxiety, chronic stress, and depression.

First and foremost, patients must acknowledge that such feelings are a perfectly normal response to a breast cancer diagnosis. Symptoms such as negative thoughts, reduced interest and concentration, guilt, and low self-esteem are common. Negative emotions, however, prove detrimental to properly treating a patient’s condition. Problems can range in severity, from eating poorly and neglecting exercise to withdrawing from friends and family. The pain and trauma associated with a diagnosis must be recognized to offer individuals experiencing mental illness the support and comfort they seek. Managing these psychological effects is a fundamental aspect of providing breast cancer patients holistic care and has successfully proven to increase survivorship.

The cornerstone of properly managing a breast cancer diagnosis lies in seeking assistance from mental health professionals. Professionals actively work with patients to uncover effective coping mechanisms for managing stress, alleviating risky behaviors such as substance abuse, and promoting a dynamic lifestyle that ultimately sparks personal growth. Addressing one’s symptoms and concerns can also be accomplished by reaching out to trusted friends and family members. Finding community support groups is a wonderful opportunity for patients to give and receive emotional support and learn from the experiences of others.

This need for psychological support is a crucial element of the comprehensive care necessary for breast cancer treatment. Embracing this vigilant attitude towards mental health is an action that must be practiced during all steps of the cancer journey. Mental health innovation is, after all, deeply interconnected with the body and the physical changes that come with breast cancer.

Peace. Balance. Acceptance.

These are the emotions that Breast Cancer Comfort hopes to inspire among the community of patients and survivors joining our Comfort Connections initiative.

Resources:

A. Pitman, S. Suleman, et al. “Depression and Anxiety among People Living with and beyond Cancer: a Growing Clinical and Research Priority.” BMC Cancer, BioMed Central, 1 Jan. 1970, bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-019-6181-4.

Gattuso, byReina, et al. “How a Breast Cancer Diagnosis Affects Your Mental Health.” Talkspace, 22 Jan. 2020, www.talkspace.com/blog/breast-cancer-diagnosis-mental-health/.

Kosko, Katie. “The Role of Mental Health in Cancer Outcomes.” Cure Today, 24 Apr. 2019, www.curetoday.com/articles/the-role-of-mental-health-in-cancer-outcomes.

“Mental Health Care Options for People With Metastatic Breast Cancer.” Breastcancer.org, 22 Jan. 2020, www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/types/recur_metast/living_metast/mental-healthcare.

Breast Cancer Comfort Foundation is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, and all donations to the Breast Cancer Comfort Foundation are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS regulations.

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