Category Archives: quality of life issues

How to Help Patients During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, but the season can bring challenges for cancer patients and those who have recently completed treatment. The stresses of cancer may leave them feeling out of touch or overburdened with traditional holiday responsibilities. If someone you know is in, or has recently completed, treatment for cancer, consider these tips for helping during the holidays.

Let the patient take the lead. Some people will want to celebrate the holiday season as they always have, but others may want to step back and be less festive. Even if treatment is over, your …


Sexual Activity After Breast Cancer

I read a review of research published in Maturitas an international science journal dedicated to research about midlife health and beyond. The article focused on sexuality after breast cancer.
Summarizing the research findings in a sentence …women get little support to help them maintain intimacy while going through treatment or restoring intimacy after active treatment is over.
Sexuality remains the taboo subject.
The review, which analyzes studies from 1998 to 2010, concluded that the sexual needs of women with breast cancer are rarely addressed in a clinical setting. The reasons given vary; health professionals either don’t know how to, or don’t feel comfortable, …


Older Women and Aromatase Inhibitors

One of the studies presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Summit in 2011 dealt with the possible cause-effect relationship of severe side effects of aromatase inhibitors in older breast cancer survivors and why so many of these women stop taking these drugs that can help prevent a recurrence.
The study was of particular interest to me as I was put on Arimidex, an aromatase inhibitor, after my second breast cancer. Having been on tamoxifen for five years after my first cancer, I was prepared for side-effects, but didn’t expect them to be as severe as they were. Significant weight gain, …


Five Year Milestone

A couple of weeks ago marked the five-year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. It has brought up many feelings, both positive and negative about my diagnosis and treatment (both physical and mental). It was a great time to reflect on how far I have come both physically and emotionally from the shock and devastation of diagnosis, and the accompanying months of treatment.
Life before and after cancer have been vastly different for me. I know that my age likely made a big difference in how I think about this time – I was 28 at the time of diagnosis – …


The Importance of Giving

I didn’t blog last week because I was dealing with a death in my family. My dear great uncle passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s. It was a terrible reminder of how an incurable illness can overcome an otherwise healthy person. Though the physical symptoms of Cancer and Alzheimer’s differ, the effect on family and quality of life are similar in many ways. Hospital stays, many and varied medications, side effects, and the sad decline in health are all the same.
And of course, these are just two of many incurable diseases people are facing daily. Research and advancement in …


Personal Quality of Life Issues as a Breast Cancer Survivor

If you have a supportive family, close friends and/or a long-term marriage or relationship with a loving partner, this can ease the transition from patient to survivor and all the adjustments that go with it.
For those of us who get breast cancer later in life, survivor adjustments to things that impact on our personal quality of life may include lingering side effects from treatment, which fade with time, side effects from hormone therapy (if we are er-positive) such as hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, vaginal dryness and bone pain.
There is relief for hot flashes, mood swings, bone pain and …