Studies show that women diagnosed with breast cancer have several unmet mental, emotional, physical and lifestyle needs.
After undergoing breast cancer related treatment, women may find that they have limited range of motion, strength and dexterity in their upper body. Something as simple as carrying bags of groceries out of the store then into the home is not so effortless anymore.
Meal delivery services may be a source of independence for women who are single and in partnerships. Meal delivery services offer gift packages for singles and couples. Many services include health options which are great for women going through therapy and who benefit from a healthy diet.
Meal preparation is another way to plan ahead for the week. Cooking healthy and simple meals (meat, vegetables, brown rice) in advance, reduces the amount of time it takes for women to plan and then cook for themselves or their family. Although it may not be easy to accept help at first, friends and family members may offer to prepare and deliver meals, drive to and from treatment, help with the children or complete daily tasks around the home, like laundry and cleaning. If the help is there, the person in treatment may carry out their own daily routine without rush or risking injury.
In addition, many women report psychological change during treatment. Individualized and group therapy may benefit women experiencing mental change, doubt or frustration. There are also support groups in local areas throughout the country. Social implications may occur during treatment. Social groups provide women in treatment or recovery with a safe, comfortable outlet where they can express their experiences, feelings and concerns.
Partnerships have been reported to be impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis. For single women, there is difficulty in telling a new partner about a health condition. For married women, home life and daily tasks may be shifted to their partner. Fertility may also be impacted through the process of treatment. An area of concern for women in treatment is sexual dysfunction or change in sex life. During and after breast cancer treatment, women have reported their oncologist did not counsel them through changes in intimacy and sexuality or provide thorough educational resources.
Furthermore, partners and caretakers of people living with breast cancer must take time to care for themselves. As a caretaker of someone with breast cancer, it is important to keep a healthy diet and exercise. Men speaking to other males who have wives with breast cancer, are able to express their emotions and fears. The caretaker's own feelings and concerns should not go unaddressed.
Maintaining a routine is highly important for women confronted with breast cancer treatment. If medication is part of a woman’s course of treatment, timing is crucial. Medications must be taken on certain days and times (taking pills late may cause harsh side effects). Keeping a calendar can remind people of times they should be taking their medication and of doctor’s visits or treatment appointments.
Bringing along a friend or life partner to health related appointments may bring comfort to the person with breast cancer. Also, friends and family want to take notes of what health care professionals say. In addition, the person with breast cancer may want to keep a list of questions about their condition. Healthcare appointments can be nerve-racking in the moment so creating an ongoing list of questions on a daily basis can of reference during visits.
Vaziri, Sh, and F Lotfi Kashani. “Sexuality after Breast Cancer: Need for Guideline.” Iranian Journal of Cancer Prevention, Cancer Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352520/.
“‘I Call Her My Warrior:’ A Husband’s Perspective on Breast Cancer.” Healthline, www.healthline.com.