Breast cancer and its treatment can have a number of physical effects on your body. You might be challenged by fatigue, pain, lymphoedema, lowered bone density, changes in weight, changes in mood, hair loss or the side effects of early menopause.
Some women find this is a time when they have a renewed focus on their physical wellbeing. You may find yourself seeking out ways to take better care of yourself.
Breast cancer has had some positive effects on me. I'm more assertive, and probably also selfish enough to join and attend gym. I've made lifestyle changes including diet, exercise and meditation. - Sharon
There are things you can do that may help you to feel better:
- Exercise has been shown to be very effective in managing many of the side effects of breast cancer treatment, improving both physical and emotional healthy and overall quality of life. There is also good evidence that exercise may reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back.
- Try to get enough sleep - many women having treatment for breast cancer will experience sleeplessness at some stage. BCNA's Sleepless nights: breast cancer and sleep fact sheet may help.
- Eat a balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrition it needs to heal and help you function better. Healthy eating can provide you with energy to tackle day-to-day activities, help you maintain a healthy body weight and manage stress. Long term healthy eating combined with regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Ask your family and friends for help with daily tasks, such as housework and childcare, so you can have some time to look after yourself.
- Complementary therapies such relaxation, meditation and yoga may help to soothe you and enhance your physical and emotional wellbeing.
BCNA has web pages on how to manage the following conditions:
- My Journey Kit contains information on emotional and physical wellbeing
- BCNA's Exercise and breast cancer booklet explains the benefits of exercise, recommended exercise targets, practical tips to help you stay motivated, and includes an exercise diary where you can keep track of your achievements. You can download or order it here.
- Developed in consultation with dieticians and other health professionals, BCNA's Healthy eating and breast cancer booklet is designed to help you maintain a healthy diet, both during and after treatment.
- If you think talking to others online and sharing experiences will help you can join our online network.