For any person, receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is traumatic and changes their life forever. And if it were just a matter of treating the disease in order to save the person’s life, it would be so much of an easier matter for any patient. But, such is never the case no matter what any physician or person who has never been diagnosed might believe. The mental toll on the patient is very real and most likely will last well beyond the final medical treatment and perhaps a lifetime. But let me explain!
Helping a patient to deal with the mental aspects that result from a cancer diagnosis is as important as treating the disease. Barbara Jacoby
First, you see yourself in a whole different way. The obvious outward signs from surgeries and treatment are not only visible to you but to others as well. The range may be anywhere from the loss of hair after chemo to reactions to medications to the difference in appearance from breast(s) removal to the grimace of pain that regularly appears on your face from even the slightest of movements. You are already well aware of each little change that you can see in the mirror and every bit of pain that you experience that you have after surgery to perhaps forever and now see yourself in some sort of diminished way. And if those around you add to these personal feelings with negative comments on any level, particularly if they come from those to whom you are the closest, you most likely will find it difficult to deal with your thoughts about being accepted for yourself in the same way that you were before the cancer.
Second, you never see yourself as others see you. You will be seeing and judging others from your own perceptions of yourself and those perceptions most likely have absolutely nothing to do with how any other person sees you. You can’t and never will be able to see yourself as any other person does because you don’t come from their experiences. And you should know by now that you have so many people in your life who appreciate you for the person that you are and that is why they are there and that has nothing to do with outward appearances.
Third, there is a book titled, “What You Think of Me Is None of My Business” and it means exactly that. Whatever someone else may say or do will NEVER be because of YOU. If anyone chooses to disrespect you in any way, it comes from their own insecurities and lack of courage to deal with their own issues because it is easier to focus on using their negativity on someone else. So please don’t ever hold on to anything negative that someone has sent your way as you will need all of your positive energy to use on your own healing and recovery and making the changes that are necessary in order handle all of the other things that need attention in your life.
Helping a patient to deal with the mental aspects that result from a cancer diagnosis is as important as treating the disease. The physical scars will hopefully diminish over time along with the level of physical pain that the individual will experience. However, unless we learn to treat the whole patient and not just the disease, cancer may result in a lifetime of sadness and pain for a person long after they no longer experience any evidence of disease. So please help yourself and/or help someone that you know who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis by introducing and encouraging them to talk to their doctors about getting help for the mental toll that the disease is having on them. In this way, cancer might not be a lifetime issue for so many more if they are able to receive the help they need with the mental side effects that they have as a result of their diagnosis.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.