How Breast Cancer Impacts a Person’s Life

By Shannon Gurnee
In Body
June 8, 2023

Today, on Redhead Mom, I’m sharing a partnered guest post about how breast cancer impacts a person’s life.

breast cancer sad woman

When a person receives a breast cancer diagnosis, it can be challenging to imagine all the ways in which their life may change over the coming days. Everyone’s experience with breast cancer is different, and the experience may include both physical and mental trials. Even so, there are some common struggles experienced by countless cancer patients to be aware of. In this article, we discuss some of the common difficulties experienced by cancer patients and offer some tips for going through the diagnosis and treatment phases.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when the cells in a person’s breast grow and divide uncontrollably. Both women and men can suffer from breast cancer, and the disease may begin in one or both breasts. Most variants of breast cancer begin in the lobules or ducts of the breast, but a small number of diseases can start in other tissues. Breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body when infected cells get into the lymph or blood system. 

Every year, approximately 264,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 42,000 women pass away from the disease. A cancer patient’s prognosis depends on a number of factors unique to their case, including how early the disease is diagnosed, how far it managed to spread undetected, and what treatment methods are readily available.

Challenges Faced By Cancer Patients

Even when a person’s cancer development is caught in the initial stages and they have a good chance of a positive medical outcome, going through cancer treatments can be an incredibly difficult experience. A single course of chemotherapy treatment can last up to half a year and many of the medications used to combat cancer have serious side effects. Breast cancer patients may find themselves struggling with strong negative emotions, physical changes in appearance, and a new role in their family unit. 

Negative Emotions & Self-Reflection

Almost everyone that is diagnosed with breast cancer will wrestle with feelings of sadness, anger, disappointment, and betrayal at some point. Many cancer patients feel as though their body has let them down and that they’ve lost control of their health as a result. It is entirely normal to struggle with negative self-thoughts as one goes through a life-altering event, such as a cancer diagnosis.

Allow yourself some time to work through your emotions, both after the initial diagnosis and throughout the treatment process. Everyone’s experience of a significant illness is different, and there is no right or wrong way for you to feel.

Physical Changes

Breast cancer patients may need to undergo surgical removal of one or more breasts to remove infected tissue and prevent the disease from spreading to other parties of the body. In the event that removal is not needed, a patient may still need to get a lumpectomy, which can change the size or symmetry of the breast. These changes to a person’s physical appearance can deliver a significant blow to self-confidence. 

Many of the medications used to treat various forms of cancer can have massive changes to a person’s appearance. They may cause hair loss or cause a person to suddenly put on weight. While diet and exercise may be able to curb some of the weight-related effects of cancer medications, a patient may still struggle to maintain their physique. 

If a cancer patient undergoes radiation, they can experience swelling, skin changes, and fatigue throughout the course of their treatment(s). Chemotherapy can have a wide range of effects, ranging from sleep disturbances to chemo brain. A patient’s medical team should be well-equipped to help them handle the worst effects of cancer treatments. 

Evolving Relationships

Breast cancer patients frequently find their roles within their family unit and friend group shifting after their diagnosis. People that were previously heavily involved in childcare, household duties, or their job may find themselves needing to take a step back and allow others to carry the weight of some of their former tasks. It can be challenging to accept care and support from loved ones and friends, even if they are just doing their best to help in a time of need.

In some cases, friends and family members may begin to withdraw. While this may hurt, some people are not adequately equipped to take on the emotional burden of facing cancer. This does not mean that a cancer patient’s friends or family don’t care for and love them, just that they may not be able to offer much support throughout the process.

Potential Impact on Fertility

Young women going through cancer may experience particularly difficult challenges throughout the treatment process. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy can cause medical menopause or reduce estrogen levels, which may result in temporary or permanent infertility. Patients that would like to have children should discuss these potential issues with their doctor before beginning treatment. 

Changing Workplace Environment

If a breast cancer patient is working at the time of their diagnosis, it’s essential for them to understand how their job may be protected by federal laws. It’s also a good idea to research options for preserving health insurance in the event of a layoff. By brushing up on your company’s sick leave policy, keeping good records of time off, and strengthening your knowledge of the legal system, you protect yourself and your financial stability. 

Overcoming Adversity After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying and hard to face. It’s important to remember that your friends, family, and medical team will be by your side every step of the way. We hope that you and your family are able to overcome cancer and resume the happy, healthy lifestyle that existed before your diagnosis. 

About Has 2214 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

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