The Psychological Challenges of Breast Cancer and Living Beyond

Today’s discussion deals with one of the most important parts of the recovery process. The challenge of dealing with the emotional and psychological toll of a breast cancer diagnosis or the diagnosis of any cancer for that matter. A diagnosis of breast cancer or cancer of any kind, is not only devastating to the patient, but to the entire family as well. First I’d like to say, to all those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer….I am so sorry you are having to endure this journey. When I first heard those words…"you have breast cancer", the reality was almost too hard to grasp. Everyone who has heard those words, remember the exact date and time these words ….you have cancer…your life would be forever changed. I remember feeling disbelief, anger and a sense of betrayal as I felt I had led a healthy lifestyle and always watched my diet. I was angry at the world but mostly at the body that had betrayed me. My breasts which had nursed my two sons and been such a vital part of my femininity for 53 years, were suddenly the enemy. When a double mastectomy was the only way to win the battle, I felt a loss I hadn’t felt since losing my father twenty years since. Of course nothing can compare with the loss of a loved one, but this loss would be a deep one as well.

I remember also feeling lost. I needed to learn as much as I could about my disease and try to process the information so I regained my sense of control. Although I was fortunate to have the support of a wonderful husband and family, they could not understand the demons inside my head. ​ As a way to express my feelings, and process the diagnosis, I found it therapeutic to put my thoughts into written words. It was then I began to keep a journal. This not only helped organize my treatment, it helped me share my feelings with