• How do I deal with stress while I'm recovering from breast cancer?

    Asked by LAWoman on Tuesday, December 24, 2013

    How do I deal with stress while I'm recovering from breast cancer?

    18 Answers from the Community

    18 answers
    • jhale17's Avatar

      What I have learned that works for me on how to get through cancer is being proactive. After the initial shock I began looking at having cancer like a job. I did not know cancer but I know jobs as I was forty-six years in the aerospace industry when my cancer was first diagnosed. The difference in dealing with cancer is you do not get to train for it beforehand like you do in a normal job. With cancer you have to learn how to deal with it on the run as there is no prep-school for cancer.

      There is a lot more to learn than I can mention here but I have a few pointers to share that may make life easier for you. Good luck on your journey.

      Patience - Patience has these synonyms; perseverance, fortitude, endurance, tolerance and persistence. Cancer will test you on all facets of all of the synonyms.

      What I have experienced is the more patience you give to your journey the easier it is to endure. At the onset you have all those wait times (please avoid calling them “delays”) for all the testing and then waiting for each results. Then you get into treatment, then side effects, then scans and then the scan results. To me these actions all take place in what I call slow motion. It took me some time to learn to be proactive on scheduling but to accept what my best efforts provided then kickback and live my life to the fullest while I am in those wait times. This allows two things to happen, you will be happier and that helps those around you be happier. I think patience is a placebo that works.

      Advocacy – Advocacy is something you may want to do for yourself. If you want to go it alone fine, but if you do not then you better get someone to be your advocate. If you find your cancer journey is leaving you bewildered then seek out someone to be with you in the doctor’s office, for surgery, in the infusion room, for scans or lab work. Have the advocate take notes, because you may be too stressed to remember what the doctor said, and the notes will be very helpful.

      There are many things that need doing to prepare for treatment. You the patient may accept or challenge the proposed treatment. You may need help in making those decisions.

      Once into treatment things soon become routine. Still, it helps if you and your advocate both hear the instructions for tasks to be done by the patient. An advocate may help in creating a list of questions that may arise to ask the doctor during the ongoing appointments.

      Mindfulness – Mindfulness, according to Goldie Hawn in her book “10 Mindful Minutes”, says mindfulness is “the conscious awareness of our current thoughts – and accepting this awareness with openness and curiosity in a non-judgmental way. It means focusing on non-doing, a crucial skill in these distracted times.”₁

      Something meaningful to me is her referring to “Take daily ‘brain breaks’ and focus on breathing.”₁ When my anxiety level goes up is when focusing on breathing really helps. Sometimes just three long gentle abdominal breaths will give me relief but, there is no limit on how many you do.

      My analogy for mindfulness is like rebooting a personal computer. In time you find your computer slows down or acts strangely. Giving it a timeout helps. This is done by shutting it down and unplugging the computer for a little while and then rebooting it by turning it back on. The rebooting allows the computer to startup fresh and less encumbered. Mindfulness is like giving your mind a timeout and a reboot.

      Here is an opportunity to get a CD from Massachusetts General Hospital’s General Store that has two twenty-minute tapes on focused breathing. This CD is based on trials run by DR Herbert Benson (he is on You Tube) dealing with gene expression.

      Use this link to review or to order the CD, Bring Relaxation to Your Life, Olivia Hoblitzelle, Available in English, Spanish/Mandarin, or Cantonese.


      Bring Relaxation to Your Life
      English CD 67483 $15.00
      Language: English 67483, Spanish/Cantonese 8402, Mandarin 8404

      First segment introduces you to the relaxation response, including some key techniques such as breath awareness, body scan relaxation and the use of a focus word. Specific instructions throughout the tape help you to develop a relaxation response practice. The second segment teaches awareness, or "mindfulness" of sensations, thoughts, and sounds. It also introduces breath and awareness as "primary tools" that enable you to integrate the relaxation response into daily activities. This relaxation has fewer instructions, allowing you to further develop your relaxation response practice.

      Using this CD will help your understanding of “focusing on non-doing” mentioned above.

      ₁ The Arizona Republic, 6.3.2013, Harvey Mackey’s column

      almost 6 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar

      I do meditation every morning and exercise daily. That is the best way to recover from stress, and oh yes....stay away from stressful people! Best wishes and Happy Holidays to you! xoxoxo

      almost 6 years ago
    • banditwalker's Avatar

      I am wondering, "how did you deal with stress when you were in the midst of it"? Are things worse now? Maybe I'm not getting your question,

      almost 6 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Depends.....on what the stress is from....remember you need to take care of yourself...you need to come first....do what you need to do to feel good...walk, meditate, exercise...whatever helps you....

      almost 6 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      "LET GO ---- LET GOD!!!"

      almost 6 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar

      The first thing is to realize that stress is a reaction to an event. Stress does not come from without, it's an internal reaction.

      There are many ways to take care of stress. One is to see a psychotherapist for Mindfulness training. Another is to see a psychologist for Ericksonian "hypnotherapy", which is not mind control - it's deep relaxation that allows us to look within for our own answers.

      Medicine is best avoided if possible - who needs another chemical during such a time!

      almost 6 years ago
    • catwrites1's Avatar

      I signed up for a Tai Chi class to help me handle the anxiety. I love it - now in my third session. I've even been able to use it while waiting for drs, treatments, etc. It helps you focus on "other" things. I also joined a gym. Then having read a bunch of books on cancer, I stopped for awhile; I was getting bogged down in too much information and wondering where I fit in. Now I'm an occasional reader of cancer material. Last but not least, I signed up here. It's helpful to read about fellow survivors; you're not alone. Take care.

      almost 6 years ago
    • Carolsuei's Avatar

      Thank you jhale 17

      almost 6 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      For me, high-strung was an understatement before cancer. During treatment, I cried so many times, not because I had a 30% chance of living, but because being so still was excruciating. If I wasn't busy enough, I thought of more things to do (build a garden, run a marathon, teach a night class at the university). I thrived on stress.

      Now, three years after chemo, three surgeries, and radiation, I am better about setting realistic goals. My husband says I've lost my super power. Chemo brain makes it hard to multitask and think on my feet. Acceptance of my limitations has caused me a lot of stress. My job, working with children and teachers is stressful. Worrying about recurrence before my own daughters graduate high school is stressful.

      Coping? I take a kickboxing class twice a week. My husband has taken over some household duties--grocery shopping, picking kids up from school several days a week. I allow more time to read professional material, knowing that I may have to read it twice.

      I wish you the best.

      almost 6 years ago
    • glam's Avatar

      First of all Celebrate!!!!! you have already gone through the worst....you could do that so spoil yourself the most you can....you really deserve it....then choose activities you like to do and include them in your routine....eat as healthier as you can and practice some activities...choose those that have more to do with you so you can have pleasure and are more likely to continue practicing them forever...exercise your brain.....do crosswords, puzzles or brain exercises....I like the site www.lumosity.com...if you have a chance take a look on it....give time to time....don't be so demanding on you....it is not because you have already gone through treatment that you have to return to everything you used to do before....actually probably you will have to reinvent your "normal" so plan it with all your care and love because it should be much lighter and beauty than it used to be......so enjoy.....if you need help to deal with fear of recurrence, don't be shamed or afraid to ask....just do it.....and smile......smile as much as you can....it is contagious.....and make everything better......I wish you a Merry Christmas and a 2014 full of health, pleasure and fun....God bless you and continue blessing all of us

      almost 6 years ago
    • baridirects' Avatar

      If you have any kind of artistic bent, I'd like to recommend that you look into Zentangle at www.zentangle.com.

      Zentangle is an art form that anyone, regardless of formal training, can learn to do. I often describe it as "doodling on steroids", but in reality, I've been using it as a kind of meditation practice - a way to calm and focus the mind while at the same time producing lovely pieces of artwork. When I find myself getting overly stressed, I sit down in my office, get out a piece to tangle on, put on some "spa music", and draw to my heart's content. It's really portable, too...I brought a little kit with me to all my chemo sessions, and spent the day in relaxing thoughts while bringing designs to life. I actually did personalized bookmarks for all my doctors and care team members as a "Thank You" for their excellent care...I'm now working on bigger ones for my med oncologist, my social worker/counselor, and my surgeon.

      I have found great joy and peace through Zentangle - perhaps you will, too!

      Sending you Christmas greetings...may our Creator bless us all in the New Year!


      almost 6 years ago
    • hikerchick's Avatar

      I would imagine I'm the odd woman out but for me, I've found that if I imagine worst-case-scenario, then come to terms with it in my own way, there is nothing left to have power over me and cause excess fear. Good luck to you.

      almost 6 years ago
    • jewelhaque's Avatar

      Hello LAWoman ! Jhale17 explained extremely well how to deal with stress. Please try to follow what he has mentioned.

      almost 6 years ago
    • dmholt1957's Avatar

      Like JennyMiller said, give it to God and He will handle it and take care of you. Try to stay positive and I pray that you have a great support system because that is very important. Let your loved ones pitch in and help you and if it makes you feel better find someone to talk to about how you are feeling. Sometimes it is good to get out your emotions. Find a support group to join if you don't feel comfortable talking to your family or friends. Sometimes it is easier to talk to somebody you don't know or that is going thru the same thing you are going thru because they truly understand what and how you are feeling. I pray that your journey gets easier for you. God bless.

      almost 6 years ago
    • barbsrec's Avatar

      I did something I loved and that made me happy everyday. All people in my life that came out with negative thoughts for me were put on the back burner and I surround myself with people that are positive. My mother in law made fun of my weight and hair loss while I am fighting for my life. I chalked her up as cruel and put her on the back burner indefinitely. I spend some time every day pampering myself. It may be something as simple as putting on some lotion, as long as it makes me feel good. Hugs and love to you and block out as much stress as you can. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

      almost 6 years ago
    • barbsrec's Avatar

      I did something I loved and that made me happy everyday. All people in my life that came out with negative thoughts for me were put on the back burner and I surround myself with people that are positive. My mother in law made fun of my weight and hair loss while I am fighting for my life. I chalked her up as cruel and put her on the back burner indefinitely. I spend some time every day pampering myself. It may be something as simple as putting on some lotion, as long as it makes me feel good. Hugs and love to you and block out as much stress as you can. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

      almost 6 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      There are many answers to this... some are drugs...I got some and threw them all away.. you can cry a lot... did that too! But, the answer is within each of us individually. For me it was talking to others who went through it, asking a lot of questions to my doctors (I need to know the science behind things), meditation (hard one but learning to quiet the mind is healthy), most of all when I began to see ways of taking control back like learning as much as I can about nutrition and how to build up my strength and health, exercising ( an hour a day to forget- mine is Zumba.. I just had to dance every day with loud music) and most importantly, connecting to Spirit, God, Higher Power whatever you believe, calling my angels to help heal me. No pill or quick answer can replace any of these things mentioned, but try them all and find your peace. In the meantime, know that you are not alone.. we are here!

      almost 6 years ago
    • DrShani's Avatar

      You've got some great suggestions here already. Stress is usually about feeling out of control. So the best response is taking back your power. I heartily second the recommendations for exercise, and would add to that taking charge of your lifestyle in general: nutrition, sleep, recreation, etc. Being proactive,you'll know you've done all you can to create a healthy body to live in from here on out. And then enjoy each moment. None of us knows what's coming down the line, even tomorrow. But we have today - how will you create a today that you love?

      Seeing you calm and in radiant health-

      Dr. Shani Fox

      almost 6 years ago

    Help the community by answering this question:

    Create an account to post your answer Already have an account? Sign in!

    By using WhatNext, you agree to our User Agreement, and Privacy Policy

    Read and answer more breast cancer questions.  Also, don't forget to check out our Breast Cancer page.