If you’ve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), taking proper care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do. Having support from your loved ones is important, but with time, your most important lesson is be kind to yourself. This is just as important for managing the condition and enjoying a good quality of life. I read this very interesting article by Ann Silberman, who enlightened me that even though I may not have been diagnosed with MBC. These steps are very important to Caring for self.
Self-care differs from person to person, but here are eight things that really help each day
Take care of your hair
No, it isn’t shallow. I have lost my hair twice since my diagnosis. Being bald announces to the world that you have cancer- you have no choice.
I still do chemo, but it’s not the kind that causes my hair to fall out. After my mastectomy and liver surgeries, I found it difficult to hold my arms up long enough to blow dry my hair, which is the only way I can control it (I have long, very thick, and curly hair). So, I treat myself to a weekly wash and blowout with my stylist. It’s your hair. Take care of it however you want! Even if that means treating yourself to a blowout every so often.
Having cancer can be overwhelming and horrifying. For me, going for a walk outside helps in a way nothing else can. Listening to the birds and sounds of the river, looking up at the clouds and sun, smelling the raindrops on the pavement — it’s all very peaceful.
Invest in a cleaning service
Cancer treatment can cause anemia, which will leave you feeling very fatigued. Treatment can also make your white blood cell count drop, which puts you at a higher risk of getting infections. Feeling fatigued and being at a higher risk of getting infections may have you feeling concerned about cleaning a dirty bathroom floor. Also, who wants to spend precious time scrubbing the bathroom floor? Investing in a monthly cleaning service or getting a housekeeper can solve a lot of problems.
Learn your limitations
After nine years of treatment, I’m no longer able to do some of the things I used to be able to do. I can go to a movie, but not dinner and a movie. I can go out to lunch, but not go out to lunch and shop. I have to limit myself to one activity a day, if I overdo it i’ll pay for it with nausea and a headache that can go on for days. Sometimes, I won’t be able to get out of bed.
Hobbies are a great way to get your mind off of things when you’re feeling down. One of the hardest things about needing to leave my job was having nothing to focus on other than my condition.Sitting at home and thinking about your illness is not good for you. Dabbling in different hobbies, or devoting your time to one that you really love, can help you feel better.
Helping others is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. While cancer may place physical limitations on you, your mind is still strong and capable. If you enjoy knitting, maybe knit a blanket for a child with cancer or a patient in a hospital. If you’re able, you can volunteer for an organization like the Trinidad & Tobago Cancer Society.
Accept your condition
Cancer happens, and it happened to you. You didn’t ask for this, nor did you cause it, but you do have to accept it. Maybe you can’t make it to that wedding, perhaps you’ll have to quit a job that you love- accept it, and move on. It’s the only way to make peace with your condition and find happiness with the things you can do, even if that’s just bingeing on your favorite TV show.
Consider financial aid
Cancer care and treatment will no doubt put a strain on your finances., additionally, you’ve likely needed to leave your job to focus on your health. It’s understandable if you’re concerned about finances and feel like you can’t afford things like a home cleaning service or weekly blowout. There is National Insurance Board please enquire on what assistance can be obtained.
Personally, I swear by insurance. When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I contacted my insurance agent and immediately documents were completed and within one month a cheque was issued to cover my surgery expenses. If you are already diagnosed, it will be too late to get insurance coverage, but I urge each of you who have been diagnosed with Cancer or know someone who has to spread the word about Life Insurance with Critical Illness Coverage. You never know when it will come in handy to ease that financial strain..
For more information:
Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society
69 Dundonald Street, Port of Spain
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By Asha Mungal