Finding out that you have metastatic breast cancer can bring about a range of emotions. The important thing to remember is that there is a lot of information available to help you make decisions that are right for you.
Many people describe finding out that they have metastatic breast cancer as "devastating."
If you have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, you may feel angry, shocked and scared, and it can take a while for the news to sink in. While it’s normal to worry about what lies ahead for you and your family, it can be comforting to know that with current advances in treatment some people with metastatic breast cancer can live well for many years.
The primary emotion is fear, but try not to let the fear cripple you. Live one day at a time and live to the fullest – you are alive today and there is life after metastatic breast cancer.
You will have black moments, but those moments will pass – it might be one day, three days or a month, but it’s important to remember it will pass.
Many people with metastatic breast cancer say that, for them, hope is vital. You may feel that being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer has robbed you of hope.
However, over time most people realise that hope returns and changes slightly. For example, your hope may now centre on long periods of disease control and feeling well, or you may look forward to a special trip or event.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer was a huge blow. I found it harder the second time around, and I was very angry! I thought I had done ‘all the right things’ with treatment and lifestyle changes...A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is not the end of the road; it is the start of a new journey. Some days you will be filled with fear and uncertainty, this is to be expected. Honour your feelings, they are valid; and always remember tomorrow is another day. Do not let anyone take away your hope.
Many people who have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer find that they want to blame either themselves or others for their condition. In truth, no one is really to blame.
Unfortunately, some breast cancers will spread no matter what treatments a person has received or what lifestyle choices have been made.
It is important to understand that finding metastatic breast cancer earlier does not necessarily change the outcomes of treatment. Whenever metastatic breast cancer is found, it can be treated, but currently it cannot be cured.
For a small number of people, their diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer is their first diagnosis of breast cancer. This is called de novo metastatic breast cancer.
Many people in this situation feel many different emotions including disbelief, fear, anxiety, panic, confusion and anger. It’s natural to feel devastated by the seriousness of the diagnosis, to feel confused by why the cancer has spread so quickly and to feel angry that it wasn’t picked up earlier.
Read more about de novo metastatic breast cancer.
My first diagnosis was of metastatic breast cancer, and I was completely ignorant about the whole thing. I thought from all the ads on TV that it was fine, and it was curable. I needed to be told by somebody that it was more serious than an early breast cancer diagnosis.
After the initial shock, you will gradually start to think a little more clearly and realise there are things you can do to cope with the situation. Below is a list of things that you might find helpful:
It may take a while to work out how you now want to live your life. Some people prefer to carry on with their usual daily routine, while others will want to completely alter their life.
It can help to talk to those around you or to a health professional before making big changes.
Try to take one step at a time and remember there is no need to rush into big decisions. It can help to think about what information you need to help you make decisions.
I started making drastic decisions, and I was going to quit my job. Talking to a psychologist was really valuable ... she helped me to think about things in different ways. Spend time talking to people, most importantly your doctors, other health professionals and people who have experienced this themselves.
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
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