In Ireland, 1 in 10 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Unfortunately, breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed invasive cancers in Ireland. However, continued breast cancer research and breast cancer screening improves treatments and outcomes for patients.
Living with breast cancer can be a very difficult time but there are many ways to deal with it. Each patient can react very differently to the news and experience a range of emotions and reactions.
Emotions & Reactions
Fear & Anxiety
When diagnosed with cancer many people experience fear and anxiety when thinking of what lies ahead. However, in recent years, thanks to increased research and improved treatments, cancer is not as daunting as it seems.
You may experience a variety of fears such as: fear of pain, practical fears such as financial and career concerns, fear of a changing body image or lifestyle fears.
It is important to speak to your doctor or breast care nurse about your fears and concerns, these professionals will provide you with advice and will make your breast cancer experience less overwhelming.
It is normal to feel upset and angry when diagnosed with breast cancer. Anger often hides other common feelings such as fear, sadness or frustration.
When diagnosed with cancer we can often take our anger out on other people such as health care professionals, our friends and family.
If your feelings of anger persist and becomes difficult it is important to speak to your breast care nurse, doctor or family members about how you are feeling.
It is common for people to feel denial when diagnosed with cancer. Often people may not wish to discuss or mention their illness. This is a common way of coping until you adjust to the news. Your friends, family, doctors and nurses will understand that you may not wish to discuss your diagnosis until you are ready.
Shock & disbelief
Shock is often the first reaction you experience when diagnosed with cancer. Even after speaking to a nurse or doctor about your diagnosis it may take some time to sink in. Often people find it hard to believe that they have been diagnosed. This can be a very confusing time but the feelings are normal.
It is very natural to feel sadness or sorrow when you have been diagnosed with cancer. You may feel sad for a number of reasons: for the loss of your good health, for plans that may need to be put on hold, for body changes that may arise from treatments or for family reasons. These feelings may come and go but will fade gradually.
Other common feelings such as resentment, loss of control, withdrawal and guilt can be experienced.
Positive feelings can also be experienced such as love, affection, gratitude and an extra closeness to those around you.
It is important to speak to your doctor or breast cancer nurse about how you are feeling.