15 Tips for Feeling Your Best With Breast Cancer

Women who’ve been through it share how to deal with the challenges of breast cancer.

By
Health Monitor Staff

True, your doctors, nurse navigator and other pros can give you lots of insight when it comes to coping with chemo. Yet there’s nothing like tips from the women who “get it” best—those who’ve been there. That’s why we turned to Victoria, Lauren, Eloise and Colleen. Here, these breast cancer patients share the strategies that can help soothe you—body, mind and spirit.

Body
Give mouth sores the slip

“I brought raspberry ice pops to my chemo sessions and kept them in the freezer there,” says Victoria St. Martin. While the nurse administered chemo, Victoria enjoyed an ice pop. “I do think that’s why I had only one or two mouth sores during all eight treatments.”

Ask for a prenatal massage
Victoria signed up for monthly spa massages. “I told them when I called that I’d had surgery and couldn’t lie on my stomach or raise my arms very much. They said, No problem! and gave me a prenatal massage, where I lay on my side. It was so relaxing!”

Ease your way to bald
Eloise Caggiano’s hair was elbow-length when she was diagnosed. The thought of losing it? Frightening! “My doctors recommended a shorter haircut to make the transition. And then I got a wig to match my short haircut. When I started wearing the wig, most people didn’t even notice.”

Apply for a temporary handicap tag
“This was a godsend,” says Victoria. In fact, “one day I forgot my handicap tag and had to park far away from the store. I ended up going home—I just could not physically handle the walk.” Apply for the tag application at your police department, then ask your oncologist to sign it.

Get a chemo “handler“
“A new friend of mine asked me for a list of my friends and worked out who would come with me to each treatment,” says Eloise. “The week before, she’d email that friend and tell her where to go and what to bring.”

Mind
Find the caring environment that feels right for you

Where
you receive your care can make all the difference, says Colleen Hofmeister. “I realized early on that I needed ‘hugs with my drugs,’ ” so she found a cancer center in Philadelphia where she works with healthcare professionals “who have created an environment of love, healing and prayer.”

Ask questions without embarrassment!
Eloise printed out a “Questions to ask your oncologist” list and gave it to her doctor. “I’d say, ‘Here are the things I need to know.’ It was helpful, because sometimes your questions might be embarrassing or you worry you’re asking too many questions.”

Trick yourself
“When I had PET scans, where you have to lie still for 45 minutes, I’d pretend I was getting a spa treatment,” says Victoria. “I’d close my eyes and pretend I was wrapped in seaweed, getting gorgeous.”

Published
May 2013