When we find ourselves going through a particularly challenging experience, we often withdraw from our social groups. As we discussed the thoughts and feelings that come with a cancer diagnosis in “After the Diagnosis” blog two weeks ago, it is common to feel alone, isolated, and even disconnected, since no one can understand your journey. Yet, in the instance of a cancer diagnosis, we first dive into physical treatment, forgetting about the role of mental and emotional health. It is a frequent topic of discussion with us at Balanced Wellness, that emotional and mental health play just as large a role in our overall well-being and health as the physical aspects. Life with cancer and life after cancer warrants no exception.
Support During Remission
Social support is an important pillar for successful remission!
“Social support is the emotional support, practical help, advice, and other benefits you get from interactions with people in your life.” The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation says healthy and helpful social support can come from various groups of people, such as family members, friends, spiritual advisors, co-workers or supervisors, health care providers, and other cancer survivors. Research shows that well-rounded social support improves quality of life for those going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as those in remission! Learn more about the various social support resources for all involved: Support and Resources and Post-Treatment Survivorship.
The healthy tips shown to help one better cope with the side effects of treatment are the same tips for those who have now moved past treatment and are now in remission. And it is not a journey to be taken alone!
Take care of yourself emotionally and mentally. While only YOU can do this, members of your support circle can help:
Attend a support group or build a relationship with another breast cancer survivor with whom you can talk through things!
Communicate with your doctors about fears and concerns.
Volunteer or become a breast cancer advocate!
Chronic stress isn’t healthy for anyone. Collect some willing participants and learn stress management techniques together!
Take care of yourself physically and eat healthy. There aren’t many tips that are out of the ordinary; a “healthy living” recipe calls for the same things we teach and recommend daily. Something to highlight is the “call for support” conversation that may be necessary among your circle:
Let everyone know your intentions and reasoning behind any new habits.
Ask for their support as this is a part of your remission journey.
While eating healthier, not drinking alcohol, moving more, getting more sleep, etc. may be out of your ordinary, you are prepared and willing to create a new ordinary for the next step in your journey. Your support group should respect that!
(For more specific and additional information, visit Johns Hopkins Medicine.)
Breast cancer, or any type of cancer for that matter, does not define an individual. The experience, however, can help you RE-define your approach to living, and to living well with others.