Caring For Yourself

Your treatment plan is likely to cover many weeks or months.  It may even be years, for example if you need to take hormone therapy.

Throughout your breast cancer journey, and afterwards, it is important that you take good care of yourself.  Early on this will almost certainly mean asking other people for help. This can be particularly difficult for women, who are often used to being the ones who give care and putting their own needs at the bottom of the list.

If this is you, think of it this way: the best way you can continue to care for those you love, is by getting better.  The cancer and its treatment will use up a lot of your energy – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. You need to use the limited supplies left on yourself, so that you can get back your strength and gradually have more to give out to others again.

The type of care you need will depend to some extent on your stage of the journey:

Early on you are likely to need quite specific care. For example, if you have surgery, the hospital will give instructions about how to care for your wound, what to do about the drain and dressings. After surgery, you may not be able to do routine tasks such as vacuuming for a while as your body needs to heal and you will probably find that even the most simple tasks, such as preparing a meal, are too much.  It is very important to follow hospital instructions on care after surgery: if you try and do things too quickly you risk getting lymphedema which can be a life-long complication of breast cancer.

Several weeks into your treatment your body will be recovering from surgery, but the effects over time of chemotherapy may well leave you feeling exhausted and / or in pain and / or depressed.  Again, preparing food may be more than you can cope with sometimes, especially if a side effect of the treatment is nausea.

Long term, even if your treatment is finished, the cancer or treatment side effects may be with you permanently, so that you do not have the strength or ability to do things that you did without thinking about them before you had cancer.  Accepting this, and / or allowing others to do these things for you is a way of taking care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself includes having a healthy lifestyle, see more about that here.

We also have information on family and friends and how you can help them to help you.