Caring for you

I give space to my emotions. It’s impossible to be positive all the time. – Amanda

Metastatic breast cancer brings lots of challenges. Coping with symptoms, making decisions about treatments, and ongoing tests and scans can be overwhelming. It can be tempting to focus on the physical side of things and try to ‘keep a lid’ on your feelings. Pressure from others to ‘stay positive’, or comments about how well you look, can make it even harder to admit that living with metastatic breast cancer can be emotionally exhausting.

There is no rule for how to handle emotions. You have to listen to what your heart says is right for you. But there are ways you can find support.

Talking about how you are feeling is often helpful. Sometimes, talking to family and friends is the most important way of handling feelings. But the downside of this is that you can’t always share the dark thoughts or talk about the ‘what ifs’. Talking to a trained counsellor or someone outside your usual circle can be a great relief.

There’s only so much you can talk about with friends and family – you don’t want to overburden them. It was a relief to see a psychologist – I really appreciated her honesty. Friends and family often can’t be honest in a way that a stranger can be. – Jenny

BCNA provides a professional telephone counselling service that offers free, confidential counselling to people affected by metastatic breast cancer and their families. Phone 1800 500 258 to find out more or make an appointment.

Support groups are a good way to meet people who understand what you’re going through, but they’re not for everyone, and it’s not always easy to find a local group that supports people with metastatic disease. BCNA’s online network is another way to connect with others. You can share experiences and seek advice – all from the comfort of your own home. Visit our website, bcna.org.au.

Other things that may help you to keep your emotions in balance include:

  • spending time with people who make you feel good
  • doing things that you enjoy, e.g. reading, listening to music or spending time in the garden
  • saying ‘no’ to invitations that you don’t feel up to
  • doing some regular light exercise
  • trying meditation or mindfulness techniques
  • treating yourself – perhaps a facial, movie or gallery visit.

Anxiety and depression are common and are treatable, so talk to your doctor if you are worried about how you are feeling.

Issue 79
Winter 2017