After Active Treatment…Then What?

treatmentAfter completing active treatment your treatment journey may not be over.

Depending on the results of the path report there may still be other treatments or medication regimens that your oncologist recommends to prevent a recurrence.

If your cancer was estrogen-fed (ER positive) your oncologist will want you to take hormone therapy(orally) daily for five years. It is important that you understand why you are taking this medication; how it is intended to work in your body; what you can anticipate as side effects and what actions and/or medications you can take to reduce the discomfort of any sided effects you may experience.

Since there are a few medications in the hormone therapy category, ask you doctor to explain the differences between the medications and how they work, as well as the differences in side effects. It may be helpful to see a nutritionist and discuss a diet that can help with maintaining you weight while on these medications.

Keep you doctor informed about side effects as there are medications that can and do relieve mood swings and hot flashes. Five years is a long time to suffer in silence!

While on hormone treatment, daily exercise is key to weight control and is a great attitude booster.

If you had a mastectomy and did not opt for reconstruction, be sure to get a prescription to be fitted for a prosthesis(es) from your surgeon after he or she tells you that your wound area is healed sufficiently to wear a prosthesis(es). Go to a boutique or shop that has certified fitters who can fit you with bras and prosthesis(es) that look natural and fit comfortably. Most insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare cover the cost of both the bras and prosthesis(es).  The woman who helps you can call your insurance company on your behalf and find out just how many bras and prosthesis(es) are covered by your insurance.

When being fitted, ask about light weight, hollow prosthesis(es) which are best for swimsuits and summer wear as well as the standard weights of breast forms. Some forms are definitely heavier than others. If you will only be wearing one prosthesis, you need to make sure it looks balanced with your natural breast. Fittings following a bilateral mastectomy are sometimes easier as the prostheses are evenly weighted and tend to look immediately balanced in a bra.

If you have had a lumpectomy, you may need a partial prosthesis to have symmetry between the two breasts. It is best to be fitted for this also. Check to see if your insurance company covers a partial prosthesis.

Now that active treatment is behind you and you are trying to get back to life as you knew it before breast cancer, you may find you are having trouble doing so.

It may be a good time to join a support group. Be sure to pick one that is professionally led and focuses on getting on with life. If you have trusted friend(s), who are survivors, they can help by sharing how it was for them and what helped them adjust to life post treatment.

 

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