HEALTHY LIVING—Baptist’s Girl Friend’s Guide to Breast Cancer

By on October 6, 2015
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Baptist Offers Free Resource—Baptist’s Girl Friend’s Guide to Breast Cancer

Baptist Cancer Services has developed the Baptist’s Girl Friend’s Guide to Breast Cancer, a free resource with information about everything from treatments and side effects to practical ideas for what really helps. It’s a guide to help those on the challenging path from breast cancer diagnosis to recovery and beyond.

“We know that cancer affects more than just the patient—family and friends are impacted as well. This guide was developed to help with the spiritual, emotional and psychological aspects of dealing with breast cancer and provide some basic information related to diagnosis and treatment options,” said Deniece Ponder, Director of Cancer Services at Baptist Health Systems.

There’s no one “silver bullet” for coping with a cancer diagnosis. Every woman has to find the way that works for her. However, there are predictable psychological stages that most people go through.

  • Denial, disbelief—These feelings are very common when a woman is first diagnosed.
  • Despair, depression—When reality sets in, a woman can become despondent. She might feel sluggish or unwell. A certain amount of anxiety and fear is normal.
  • Adaptation—In this phase, a woman has accepted her diagnosis, resigned herself to treatment, and is gathering her resources to cope with a new “normal.” After a cancer diagnosis, she’s not the same person she was before, because it is a life-changing experience. But it can be incredibly positive to come out on the other side with a new focus on and commitment to what she sees as the truly important things in life.

While it is certainly normal to feel nervous and scared during the cancer journey, this is not a phase where a woman needs to linger.

“Cancer fear is normal, but you don’t want to stay in that fear mode. Intensity and time are the difference between a normal response and an unhealthy response,” said Dr. Bufkin Moore, psychologist at the Hederman Cancer Center. “We get concerned when people don’t pull out of it. They stop getting out bed and spending time with people they love or even refuse to go to treatment. Recurrent thoughts of death, excessive tearfulness, no longer doing the things that give you pleasure—this is clinical depression.”

If a woman has a history of anxiety or depression, she is much more likely to experience a recurrence during cancer and cancer treatment. If you see these signs, make sure she gets the help she needs.

Here are three simple coping techniques that may help:

  1. Take one day at a time. There’s a tendency when a woman has breast cancer to want to see far down the road. With cancer, you don’t know what you’ll feel like in a week or two weeks. Try to look just at the little space in front of you, and do the next thing.

  2. Learn to prioritize.
    Cancer is very demanding and it takes a lot out of your life. It gives you an opportunity to focus on the things that matter, and to say “no” to what doesn’t. Give yourself permission to let some things go.

  3. Get questions answered.
    Not knowing is a source of great anxiety and tension. Getting answers gives you a greater sense of control. This is why it’s so important for someone to go with patients to doctor’s appointments, so there are people listening. As quoted in Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”

Download Your FREE copy of Baptist’s Girl Friend’s Guide to Breast Cancer at www.mbhs.org/powerofpink.

How can you help? Support fund for the girls. This organization provides financial assistance for breast health services at Baptist, with 100 percent of proceeds going directly to patient care. For more information, visit fundforthegirls.com.