Having breast or ovarian cancer changes many aspects of your life
Feelings and Emotions
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be a very overwhelming and scary experience. It is also a very isolating experience, especially if you are diagnosed at a young age. You may feel shocked, fearful and begin to experience symptoms of depression and panic attacks. In many cases you might find it hard to talk to family and friends, and may feel sad or angry at the possible changes in your life. It is also common to be nervous about treatment methods and their effectiveness.
Relationships and Sexuality
In both stages – before and after treatment – having cancer may affect your relationships, sexuality, confidence and feelings about yourself as a woman. Women sometimes begin to feel anxious and uncomfortable in a relationship, and worry whether or not their current or future partners will find them sexually attractive. Some women feel insecure in intimate contact, experience a reduction in sexual desire and sense of satisfaction.
Some women have problems with sleeping and concentration, day-to-day tasks, study and employment. Having breast cancer can also substantially affect your financial security and cause problems with obtaining insurance.
Patients often undergo radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and target therapy. These treatments may be stressful for both the physical and mental state of the patient and often cause side effects (hair loss, pain, osteoporosis, fatigue, weight gain, etc). The success rate of treatments vary by individual case and it is not uncommon for reverting cancer cells to grow.
Pregnancy and Menopause
Some women are diagnosed with breast cancer during or shortly after pregnancy. This may have overwhelming emotions and even complications, as breast cancer during pregnancy may be more aggressive due to delays in diagnosis. Some treatments can also cause an early menopause.
The treatment of breast cancer can affect a woman’s temporary or permanent fertility. This is a particularly serious issue for women and one of the most stressful and concerning aspects of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The reason why infertility may occur is because chemotherapy causes changes within the ovaries that prevent eggs from being released.
If you need a specialist’s help, ask your GP who will be able to advise you or arrange a consultation with a specialist for you. You may seek more information for example at The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority.