The Hidden Side of Breast Cancer
Hearing the doctor utter the results of those dragging breast cancer screenings like mammogram, x-ray, and other physical examinations that you are diagnosed with breast cancer is already unsettling and shocking. But what is much worse than the actual disease is the heart-wrenching reality that your life is suddenly filled with harrowing uncertainties. Will I still go to the office tomorrow? When am I going to tell the news to my loved ones? How many years do I have left? Or am I going to heal? Will my looks be affected? How many chemotherapy sessions do I need to attend? Can I pay for them? The list goes on. There are just so many questions following the shocking diagnosis that you cannot seem to fathom.
Breast cancer treatment is almost always about treating its physical effects on the patient while their mental health is often overlooked. The bodily changes that will happen to the patient during chemotherapies and radiation alter more than just the looks. Psychological effects of hair and weight loss, of scars that were never there before, financial devastation, qualms about employment, and the affected relationships with loved ones are just some of breast cancer’s convolutions that no machines can pre-empt.
While the emotional turmoil is normal after learning that you have breast cancer, constant stress, anxiety, mood disorders, and depression will bring negative effects to the patient especially when they don’t know where to turn for help. Such negative effects may change their perspective and lead them to do things that are bad for them.
Patients may lose their appetite, causing them to eat fewer healthy meals and choose to consume junk foods instead. They may not have the energy for a regular exercise. They may distance themselves from their families. And they may find comfort in alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Some may also retreat from attending chemotherapy appointments or undergo surgery.
According to research, depression greatly impacts breast cancer patients’ survival. Mortality rates of women with symptoms of depression are 26 times higher and 39 times higher for those who are diagnosed with major depression.
Even though breast cancer hands you its negative effects on mental health, you can always turn things around and let your mental health affect breast cancer. Individual or group treatments are of good help in affecting the patients’ behavior towards breast cancer. A patient can either go for regular sessions with a licensed psychologist, a group of fellow breast cancer patients, or a combination of both.
These kinds of psychological interventions will give emotional support to the patient and learn from other patients’ experiences in adjusting to a life with cancer. Study shows that the risk of breast cancer coming back to breast cancer patients who joined group sessions lowered by 45% and the rates of dying from breast cancer were 56% lower.
During this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is high time to acknowledge the psychological effects of the disease to the patients. Adam & Eve Specialized Medical Centre offers free counselling and screening for breast cancer to help patients detect symptoms as early as possible.
Visit us at Pink Building, Mezzanine & 01 Floor, Next to Royal Rose Hotel, Electra Street, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Or Book an Appointment by calling us at +971 2 676 7366.