Past Coping Patterns — What Worked?
Examining and identifying what helped you cope during other stressful times in your life can be applied to the problem you have now — coping with the diagnosis of breast cancer and its treatment. Some coping strategies you may have used in the past could include having tea or coffee with a friend you trust or going to the movies or theater to distract yourself from your current situation. Participating in your usual routines can also help during this time.
In Her Own Words
Partway through my treatment, my oncologist said he was worried about me. When asked why, he said, “Because you are handling this too well.” My response to him was that I have breast cancer, but it is not going to get me. I couldn't change what had happened to me, so I chose to make the best of it and go on from there. I strongly feel that a positive attitude will help for a much faster recovery. I am happy to say that eleven years later, even though I deal with ongoing lymphedema, I am still enjoying every day with a smile.
— Diane, age 62, 11-year survivor
Studies have shown that people who keep engaging in new activities, hobbies, and developing themselves, adjust better to illness and stressors and become more resilient and live longer. Some of the reasoning of this theory is that a person tends to use different parts of the brain, and keeping active physically and mentally stimulates the immune system and a general sense of well-being.
Other people who are experiencing the same challenges can also be a support to you while you undergo breast cancer treatment and can be an important part of the healing journey. Seeking out help is always more useful than turning inward, where coping is self-limiting. If being with children brings you joy and lightens your heart, then you may want to schedule time to be with children. Whatever you choose to do, you need to keep in mind that you should balance your “coping times” with times when you are feeling well. You may feel better right before your next chemotherapy treatment is due and your blood counts are up. Also, you need to limit your contact with others who have cold symptoms or other illnesses at this time because your immune system is compromised during breast cancer treatment.