Getting back on one’s feet and living life to the fullest is the single point agenda!
Once done with the primary treatment, it is important to get regular reviews both with the operating surgeon as well as the medical oncologist to identify any recurrence at the earliest. Depending on the stage at which one is diagnosed, there is a certain risk of recurrence. It is important to go for regular physical checks once in 3 months for the first 2 years post-surgery and then every 6 months for another 3 years. Annual mammograms are important and reporting of specific, persistent symptoms, like bone pain or breathlessness or cough, or loss of appetite or headache, etc. will prompt further investigation
Breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL)or arm swelling is a potentially debilitating and often irreversible complication of breast cancer treatment. The risk of BCRL is proportional to the extent of axillary surgery and radiation. Other risk factors include obesity and infections. Minimizing axillary surgery and radiation has been proven to reduce the risk of BCRL.Comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment at the time of initial diagnosis; early referral to physiotherapy after surgery; and patient education regarding weight loss, skin, and nail care are cornerstones of the management of early-stage lymphedema.
Adjuncts in Aftercare
Cancer treatment is known to alter the way you look as also the way you feel. It is important to feel as close to being complete as possible, especially while one is on treatment and afterwards. There are a lot of adjuncts that come to the rescue in the form of supportive brassiere, external prostheses, hair wigs, head caps, bandanas etc.
The diagnosis of breast cancer can wrong-foot you and bring your life crashing down. It takes time to accept the diagnosis after a period of denial and grieving. Till the time one is able to accept the diagnosis and swing into action, a lot of handholding is required. During the treatment also, there can be a lot of ups and downs and professional help in the form of psychological counselling with an expert is mandated. The counselling may be extended to the attendants also who may have coping issues and would also want to be heard and counselled.
Breast Support Group
It is not unusual for women diagnosed with breast cancer to feel isolated and lonely. To her, it may seem like she is the only one condemned to deal with this disease. She is unable to connect with her own self and others and tends to feel depressed, unwanted and sad. However much a doctor may try to counsel her, she is unable to make peace with this changed situation. This is where a strong Support group comes in handy. Women who have been through the experience and have dealt with the various aspects of treatment successfully and are now living meaningful lives are members of the support group. When these ladies reach out to the ones who have been diagnosed with cancer recently, the conviction of getting past treatment and leading normal lives beyond it is huge.