The unknowns that women face when having breast cancer affect many aspects of their lives. There are primary issues about self-image, fear of recurrence and the need for continued treatment, as well as issues related to daily activities, career and relationships.
A big part of the fear of breast cancer diagnosis is all the uncertainty and the feeling that you've lost control of your life. It's hard to imagine how anything good could happen on this particular life journey.
It turns out that this isn't necessarily so. While no one wants to be diagnosed with breast cancer, many people in treatment or those who have finished with treatment say that the experience made them stronger and helped them to become closer to their families and friends and learn more about themselves.
Being diagnosed is never easy, but once you start the process of getting the best available doctors, the best information and the best support you can from those who love you, you are in good hands.
10 ways to manage fear after diagnosis
- As you begin gathering information to make decisions, get to know the people on your medical team and make every effort to meet them in person.
- Find a doctor who communicates with you in a way that is comfortable for you, who invites your questions and gives you the information you feel comfortable with at any given moment.
- Find out what to expect from tests, procedures and treatments. Minimise surprises.
- Make plans with your doctor about how to receive test results in a prompt way.
- Find a mammography centre where the radiologist will talk with you about the results before you go home, so you don't have to wait for a letter or a call from your doctor.
- When you know you're going to have a challenging week, don't plan to do things that are stressful for you. Use your support systems – friends, movies, exercise, prayer – to help you get through it.
- If well-meaning people try to tell you stories about others' struggle with cancer, stop them right away and say, "I only listen to stories with happy endings!"
- If you reach a point where difficult emotions are getting in the way of your functioning or taking care of yourself, speak to your doctor about ways to help ease your anxiety, depression, or sleeping problems.
- Join a breast-cancer support group. Do whatever makes you feel connected to others in a positive way as a person who is moving beyond breast cancer.
- Work on ways to feel more positive about your life. Seek out productive, life-enhancing experiences; accept yourself for who you are; and spend time with positive people who affirm who you are and how you've chosen to deal with this disease.
Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day if you want to know more about living with breast cancer. Call us on our EWP number or email us at