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Coping with fear of breast cancer relapsing – Business Daily

A cancer survivors support group. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
For many women with triple-negative breast cancer, a type that is increasingly becoming common among younger Kenyans, a greater concern is the fear that the disease may come back.
This is a common challenge especially when cancer survivors hear about another individual who has been newly diagnosed or has a cancer recurrence. Or when there is a lot of information about cancer in the news such as this October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“These fears can affect mood, sleep, relationships, work, or school. And for some individuals, the fears can be overwhelming that it could interfere with one’s ability to function normally or even to attend appointments and complete treatment,” said Dr Halle Moore, director of a breast oncology programme in Cleveland Clinic, US during a meeting with the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation members and specialists.
To cope, she said, join support groups and try and focus on the things that you can control, including healthy lifestyle choices such as good nutrition and physical activity, and interacting with people you enjoy most.
“In addition, staying informed can be very important,” she said.
Ideally, your oncologist should communicate clearly, that they provide explanations for treatments, including risks and benefits, and work with you to meet your goals.
“Make a note of your most important concerns or questions. Be sure to share those early on in the meeting as that signals that those are the issues that are most important to you,” she adds.
Bring a family member or friend to the appointment to provide support and an extra set of ears to help you remember. Make sure that you have a good understanding of what is being recommended. Consider summarising what you have heard from the oncologist.
Communication helps you make complicated decisions about treatment and ask about the quality of life issues even if it is something like dry eyes, or drying nails, which might seem minor, but they are important during treatment.
“For instance, I may see two young patients with very similar early stage triple negative breast cancer. For the first, future fertility is a priority while for the other having the highest chances of curing cancer may be the greatest concern,” she said.
Dr Stewart Fleishman, a researcher in oncology said as far as living with uncertainty, some would say well, ‘life is uncertain for me too.’
It may feel like it is not the best idea to make plans, but make them realistically, and have some sort of an alternative if the plans do not work out.
“It would be really hard for all of us not to look ahead, especially to something good,” Dr Fleishman says.
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Financial.co.kewas founded by Mr. Jospeh Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance.