INTERVIEW: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - Jay Hendricks was joined by Kristi Edwards and Melanie Saiz of Centers for Children and Families to discuss Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The following comes from Centers:

What are some of the Mental Health effects associated with a breast cancer diagnosis?

· The simple notion of breast cancer can cause unease and worry

o Many people have a difficult time signing up for a mammogram because of fear of a bad result

o If a biopsy is ordered, fear can quickly escalate

· An actual cancer diagnosis can bring a multitude of emotional distress, including anxiety and depression

o Questions arise about how, if, and when to tell family members-including children

· Treatment Side Effects can affect a patient’s mood

o Insomnia, memory changes, and mood swings can result from various treatment methods

o Hormone level changes can often influence emotions

o Body changes—hair loss, weight gain, etc. are often discouraging

· Side effects can continue after treatment

o Many patients experience Post Traumatic Stress, which brings back the original emotions

o Sometimes there is a lingering fear of recurrence

What do you recommend to people walking through this journey?

· Accept your emotions.


· Talk about your fears with a healthcare provider, licensed mental health professional, trusted friend or other survivors.

· Practice mindfulness or meditation

· Awareness in the moment often helps reduce anxiety, stress and fear of recurrence.

· Take control of your health

· Ask your doctor for a written follow-up care plan, including what exams you need in the future and how often you should have them.

· Recognize important indicators

· Ask your doctor for a list of symptoms you should report to him/her in between check-ups, such as new lumps, bleeding or pain.

· Maintain a healthy lifestyle – as much as possible and as directed

· Getting enough exercise, sleep and eating a healthy diet

· Join a support group

· Getting to know other cancer survivors will help you feel less alone as you learn how they are coping with the same worries.

How can a mental health professional help women and families adjust?

· Our primary goal is to help women learn how to cope with the physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes associated with cancer

· We also teach ways to cope with the effects of medical treatments that can be painful and traumatic

o Psychologists can teach women relaxation exercises, meditation, self-hypnosis, imagery, or other skills that can effectively relieve nausea without the side effects of pharmaceutical approaches

· For many women, this life-threatening crisis eventually proves to be an opportunity for life-enhancing personal growth

· Breast cancer patients themselves aren’t the only ones who can benefit from psychological treatment.

o Partners can also be suffering.

o In one study, for example, men whose partners were diagnosed with breast cancer were nearly 40% more likely than other men to be hospitalized for severe depression and other mood disorders

o Children, parents, and friends involved in caretaking can also benefit from psychological interventions.

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