You’ve let your physician’s words sink in. You’ve accepted that your fears have become a reality. You have breast cancer, and there is no turning back. Once the reality of your situation has sunk in, and you have decided to have a mastectomy, you need to prepare yourself mentally for your upcoming surgery. Consider the following tips as your surgery date approaches, and you might find this new path you are on slightly easier to bear.
Understand that your mastectomy surgery is only the first step in your journey towards healing. Learning to live with your mastectomy scar, coming to terms with your new body, and wrapping your head around the term “cancer survivor” are just some of the challenges you will face. It is important you don’t lose sight of who you are as a person and don’t let yourself become overwhelmed with this new path you are on.
How you choose to view your breast cancer journey is up to you. Some women immerse themselves in becoming a breast cancer survivor, while others look at their mastectomy (and follow-up care) as just a blip on their life’s journey. Nobody can tell you what is right for you. Breast cancer is different for everyone, and no two experiences are the same. Understand who you want to be when you come out on the other side of your journey and continue to work towards that goal.
Know that you will need time to heal and there may be speed bumps on your path towards healing. You’ll have to get used to your post-surgical drainage tubes. Some women develop infections near their drainage areas. The tightness in your chest wall will require some adjustment, and the itchiness of your scar tissue will drive you batty at times. You might feel aches in your bones if you undergo chemotherapy or radiation, and the fatigue can sometimes be overwhelming. The more you prepare yourself mentally for the potential side effects of breast cancer treatment, the likelier you will be able to weather the storm.
Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis is only your first step. Mentally preparing yourself for everything else that comes along with having breast cancer takes ongoing self-care. Remember the above-listed tips, and you might find your journey towards healing just a tiny bit easier to navigate.
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