You are about to close the “breast cancer treatment” chapter of your life…so now what? How do you shift from being someone in active treatment to a survivor? How can you enjoy being healthy now without the fear of recurrence interfering with your new lease on life? While we can’t answer those questions for you, we can help you find resources that can help you find those answers for yourself.
What Can I Do for My Health?
The most important thing you can do for your health after breast cancer treatment is to follow up with your doctor as recommended. If you haven’t discussed a post-treatment plan with your doctor, it is important to do that so you can both be on the same page about expectations you each have of each other during this new phase. Secondly, do what you can to take care of your physical health yourself. There is some research out there that indicates that excessive consumption of alcohol, trans fats, and sugar could influence the development of breast cancer, so you may chose to moderate or eliminate these foods from your diet. Obesity, particularly post-menopause, influences the development of breast cancer, so do what you can to be at a healthy weight. Physical activity has benefits to preventing the development of breast cancer outside of reducing obesity, so get moving! Before you embark on any new exercise routine or major dietary change, be sure to consult your doctor.
Here are some resources on how to take care of your physical health post-treatment:
The physical after effects of cancer treatment aren’t the only things that linger. One thing we have heard expressed often is that there is a pervasive fear among most survivors of a cancer recurrence. Issues with body image and the loss of the constant support from doctors, family, and friends once treatment ends are also serious emotional issues that breast cancer survivors must deal with. Everyone experiences the emotions that come with survivorship in different ways, but if you are struggling with some of these issues or others, VBCF would like to help you where we can.
Here are some resources that can give you some guidance on how to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally after breast cancer treatment, as well as some other practical advice.
How Can I Stay Connected to Other Survivors?
If you want to be connected to the survivor community after you are finished your treatment, there are a number of different options. VBCF has chapters across the state that you can join and help VBCF to educate people across Virginia about breast health and advocate for policies benefiting people by increasing early detection rates and improving treatment for patients, for example. Your local hospital may also have survivorship care program. Here are some links to groups you may be interested in checking out.
How Can I Continue to Fight Against Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is more than a pink ribbon. It is a life changing experience that can leave some people with the desire to take action to improve the lives of patients and survivors, or even to fight for the eradication of breast cancer. VBCF is also passionate about advocacy, and we lead both a state and national advocacy day every year. VBCF was founded 25 years ago by five women who wanted to make a difference in the lives of people with breast cancer in Virginia, so never underestimate what a few voices can accomplish. There are also national organizations that are committed to advocacy in the breast cancer world. Breast Cancer Action, which is behind the Think Before You Pink movement, is working to help consumers become more educated about buying “pink” products and aims to tackle breast cancer on a more systemic rather than individual level. Susan G. Komen has opportunities to either become a legislative advocate or a scientific advocate, and the National Breast Cancer Coalition has multiple avenues for advocacy as well, including their Project LEAD scientific education course.