Advertising
Advertising

Living with Breast Cancer – Dealing with diagnosis and treatment

Living with Breast Cancer – Dealing with diagnosis and treatment

More women will be diagnosed with breast cancer than any other form of cancer, almost 250,000 women in the US alone will be diagnosed. However, as frightening as this statistic is, you should realise more people are surviving breast cancer than ever before with the 5-year survival rate now at 99%. Whereas this is not a threat which cannot be ignored, cancer is something which, when caught early ,can be fought and beaten.

Recognising the signs of breast cancer

On the 27th of May 2013, Vanessa felt a change in her breast tissue, she was regularly checking herself as she had a family history of cancer, but nothing changes the feeling you get when you find a lump in your breast. She immediately knew that something was wrong, that this was not just a cyst and so when to visit her doctor. Days before she had been hit in the chest by accident as someone walked into her, what she thought was a bruise from a clumsy encounter was  something more sinister.

She was immediately referred to hospital, where there was a thirteen day wait which felt like a lifetime, an emotional roller-coaster wanting the appointment to come sooner but dreading it simultaneously. Finally, standing outside the hospital with a feeling it had to be cancer, in the waiting room there were a number of older women, everyone assured her that she would be too young to have breast cancer, sadly, this was not the case.

Initially the consultant said it was just a bruise, but just as he finished the ultrasound scan he told her the news that it was malignant, his exact words “I’m afraid to say, you have a little cancer”. Vanessa asked the nurse to hold her hand, a human touch to help her cope with the impact of the news.

“It is the feeling that, despite the fact it is you who have cancer, you have to be strong for those around you as well as yourself. It is hard to watch people around you dealing with emotional distress.”

Looking at the x-rays and being able to see the thing which was growing within her was sobering.

“My first question was, ‘am I going to die?’ I was ready for whatever the answer was.”

It was a feeling that cancer was no longer something ‘out there’ which happened to other people. “Why me?” was soon replaced by “Why not me?”, she felt that the lack of control over what was happening was difficult to cope with.

Know yourself and check regularly

Vanessa went through treatment and is now in remission, however her message to any woman is how important regular checks of your breasts are. There are many signs, from lumps or bumps to fluid or heat. There are many great sites to advise you such as knowyourlemons.com.

Vanessa’s one wish is that she could encourage more women to carry out checks regularly, to make it a habit to check themselves monthly. Carry out a check on the first of the month, put it in your diary, make it part of your foreplay with your partner – “do whatever it needs, just make sure you do check”.

Advertising

Potential side effects of cancer treatment

Vanessa was one of the 99% – she had pretty aggressive treatment but is now in remission. It was only after treatment that she discovered she had contracted an often unspoken side effect: lymphedema.

Lymphedema can be brought on by breast cancer treatments such as surgery or radiation treatment. Lymph is the clear fluid which circulates throughout our bodies, it is vital to remove waste substances and bacteria from tissue. An Edema is a build-up of excess fluid and can occur almost immediately or even years after treatment.

The build up often occurs because the cancer treatment will often involve the removal of a number of the lymph nodes around the chest or under the arm. Even if the nodes are not removed, they can be damaged by the treatment causing the lymph to build up in the tissue, causing a range of symptoms, including:

  • Aching or discomfort in the arm or chest
  • Tingling or increased warmth in the limb
  • Tightness or a reduction in flexibility in the joints such as the elbow or wrist
  • Your bra fitting may have change, it may feel tighter or not fit in the same way

Managing lymphedema

Lymphedema is sadly a condition which cannot be cured, however the swelling of limbs and pain levels can be controlled. One of the most effective treatments is the use of compression garments such as a bra or sleeve. They put pressure on tissues to stop fluid build-up and encourage the lymph fluid to drain, limiting the amount of fluid which builds up in the limb.

Compression garments reduce the excessive flow of fluid from the bloodstream into the tissues and encourages the fluid within the limb to move into the body where it can drain away. Additionally, the massaging effect of the garment helps soften the hard tissue which can form as part of the lymphedema.

Advertising

Compression Bra

    An example of a compression garment – this bra is designed to provide a level of compression and support which would not be found in a normal bra.

    A compression garment fitted by a specialist will give the best therapeutic effect, starting with a few hours wear per day, you gradually increase the time worn until you can wear it for most of the day. It should be especially worn during exercise to gain the maximum effect as it will give resistance for your muscles to work against, improving the lymphatic flow.

    Wear it with style!

    Of course, just because you have to wear a medical garment it doesn’t mean you can’t still be stylish! There are a number of fun and colourful sleeves which you can wear over your bandages or sleeves because treatment doesn’t have to mean you have to stop being sassy!

    Advertising

     An example of a slip-on cover for a compression garment

      An example of a slip-on cover for a compression garment

      Cancer changes you

      You could not go through something like cancer without it changing you. Vanessa’s outlook on life changed, but it was not in a negative direction. She lives for the day and is now doing things she would not have thought possible before and is now studying a university course in screenwriting.

      Check regularly, if you find something act promptly but be aware it is not the end of the world and, with support you are not alone!-

      More by this author

      Time for an alcohol detox Cut down on drinking! Time for a post-holiday detox 5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All Understanding Millennials – Who is Generation Y? Holistic Rehab - Despair and Addiction Holistic Rehab – Choices in dealing with addiction rehab without insurance How to Get Into Rehab if You Don’t Have Insurance

      Trending in Health

      1 7 Stress Management Techniques to Get You Back on Track 2 Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One 3 4 Simple Desk-Based Stretches for Effective Lower Back Pain Relief 4 Why You Should Go For Vitamin D But Not Vitamin C To Prevent The Cold 5 Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on April 6, 2020

      How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

      How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

      What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

      To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

      All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

      There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

      With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

      What follows is a list of 13 of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these tips are essential:

      1. Think Big

        From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

        “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

        There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

        Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

        Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

        Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
        Instead be ambitious.

        2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

          From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

          “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

          This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

          Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

          If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

          Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

          Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

          Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

          3. Learn How to Balance Life

          Advertising

            From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

            “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

            All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

            If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

            However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

            If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

            In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

            To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

            4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

              From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

              “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

              There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

              Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

              His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

              He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

              Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

              Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

              If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

              5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

                Advertising

                If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                6. Be a Person of Action

                  From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                  “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                  Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                  Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                  When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                  You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                  All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                  Applying this to you?

                  Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                  7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                    From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                    The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                    The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                    People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                    This is key to good leadership.

                    It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                    But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                    What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                    As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                    8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

                    Advertising

                      From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                      “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                      It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                      Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                      If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                      9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                        From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                        “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                        Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                        It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                        Keep dreaming!

                        10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                          From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                          “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                          Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                          Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                          If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                          However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                          11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                            From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                            “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                            It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                            When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

                            Advertising

                            Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                            If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                            This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                            12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                              From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                              “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                              You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                              Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                              True success comes from work.

                              You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                              Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                              13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                Final Thoughts

                                What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                More Tips for Achieve Success

                                Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

                                Read Next