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Breast cancer: how to rebuild psychologically after such an ordeal

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The relief experienced when one is in remission from cancer is undeniable, but it can also be accompanied by psychological difficulties. And for good reason: overcoming cancer is a traumatic experience, both for the body and for the mind. The recovery phase can then be long and painful. Here are our best tips to gently grant you the well-being you deserve.

Do not neglect the shock of post-processing

Things are never all negative or all positive. And post-breast cancer is no exception. You are obviously happy to be out of it, but that does not prevent you from being upset by the end of the treatments. Emotions can overlap and become entangled. It happens, for example, that relief and anxiety merge. Don’t worry, this is completely normal! As Julie Meunier – founder of Les Franjynes and author of “To my sisters in combat” – explained to us during an interview she gave us last year, post-processing is sometimes a complicated phase: “The Going into remission can be very difficult to manage. This was my case: overnight, no doctor accompanies us. It’s very hard, because illness and fear are always present. We face a post-traumatic syndrome alone, a bit like a soldier who returns from war and is expected to be as before. The psychological effects of such an ordeal should not be minimized. »

leave the fear behind

The sudden absence of a medical team and the fear that the disease will reappear can be synonymous with anxiety, even psychological problems. First, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. He will be able to inform you about the risk of recurrence. On the other hand, talking about this concern can allow you to increase the frequency of medical visits. At the same time, try to verbalize and expel your fears as much as possible. For example, you can talk to your loved ones, call a support group or your psychologist. You can also take up any other type of outlet, such as writing, singing, painting or dancing.

Take the necessary time

Giving yourself time to get better is essential. After several months or several years of treatment, you have become accustomed to a state of survival. You can now release the pressure, but the protective reflexes put in place do not disappear overnight, and that is quite normal. To gently abandon these reflexes, there is a golden rule: give time to time. Accept the slowness of this process and do yourself good, take care of your beautiful person. You will see that over time, your fears will diminish and you will gradually find a more peaceful daily life. As Julie Meunier told us: “You have to succeed in forgiving your own body, and it’s a long, difficult process. But time always heals wounds, and even if the path is laborious, we reach the end. »

Dealing with cognitive disorders

We know today that there are effective ways to take care of your body and your mind. Among them: maintain good and frequent relationships, sleep well, play sports, have a diet adapted to your activity, drink plenty of water and stimulate your brain through novelty and learning. This is all the more true when it comes to regaining one’s cognitive abilities. As chemotherapy and hormone therapy can affect thoughts, attention, reasoning, memory or learning, do not hesitate to take care of yourself in these different ways. Take time to rest and sleep well. Do a physical activity that makes you feel good. Maintain frequent contact with loved ones. Do not hesitate to ask for their presence and their help for this important stage of transition. It is quite natural that you need their psychological support. Activities such as yoga, massages and meditation are also very effective in reducing anxiety and increasing general well-being. Intellectual or creative activities, such as reading, writing, music or drawing are also excellent for stimulating the brain.

And in order to combine care and pleasure, why not try all the activities you’ve never dared to do? A large number of supportive treatments are covered in the event of cancer. This is the approach developed by Julie Meunier and which – among other things – helped her get out of it: “I signed up for all possible support care: reflexology, sophrology, psychology, art therapy, dance , yoga… I had a minister’s schedule! Despite my sick leave, I needed to stay active. It was super important. ” Same testimony from the side of Alexandra Mariez Ferec – creator of the Instagram account “Allons-y-prevention” and ambassador of the association Geneticancer – who confided to us a year ago: “You have to remember that today, many things are put in place to ease our obstacle course a little. There are associations, sports activities, beauty treatments, discussion groups… You have to take this chance, because it helps enormously in recovery. Also keep in mind that cognitive impairment gradually disappears. Depending on the person, this can take a few days or several months.

Agree to have the right to happiness

There is also another common phenomenon during or after breast cancer. People who have been sick are unable to give themselves a share of happiness. However, it is obvious: you have the right to be happy. Alexandra Mariez Ferec told us about her own experience on this subject: “During my treatment, a psychologist told me: “Madam, you also have the right to happiness”. At his words, I burst into tears, because I thought it was inaccessible to me. The feeling of isolation and the permanence of the uncertainties about our future are such that we have the impression of no longer having access to happiness. To overcome this feeling, you have to cling to everything that can do you good, even to undertake what you have never dared to do before. This was the case of Julie Meunier, who explains to us that she used this time to realize her dreams: “I thought about all the things that I hadn’t had time to do, in order to achieve them as quickly as possible. J always wanted to write a blog, I started one. I went back to art school, I started drawing again. I wanted to be a tattoo artist, I bought myself a tattoo machine and I tattooed a plethora of lemons and grapefruits!” Admittedly, this step is difficult. But don’t forget that you have the right to happiness… more than that, that you deserve it.

Ask your doctor for help

Whatever the source of your suffering, you can at any time ask for help from health personnel. In addition to your doctor, several professionals can help you: psychologist, psycho-oncologist specialist, nutritionist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. Do not hesitate to consult the news of the association Ruban Rose, whose approach – in addition to prevention and research work – is to relieve the daily lives of women with breast cancer.

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