Emotional Resilience in the Face of Breast Cancer

Maybe it was an annual mammogram; maybe you found a lump or experienced pain in your breast. Whatever it was that got you started on this journey with breast cancer, it is important to recognize that you travel the path as a whole person. That means breast cancer affects you emotionally and physically. My understanding of this topic does not come just from my training as a psychotherapist, but as a breast cancer patient. So, let’s explore some ways to strengthen your emotional health as you go through this experience.

It is important to have an emotional survival plan in place as early in the treatment process as possible. To create your plan, identify three to five people in your life who are emotionally safe, supportive, and able to be available to you during treatment. Invite them to be a part of your support team and share what you are asking of them. Be clear if you are asking for emotional support or you need something more tangible like rides to chemo or prepared meals. If you do not have loved ones nearby, ask for a referral to a cancer support network that may be able to help you. If you are used to being independent, asking for help may be a difficult task. But it absolutely crucial.

The second step in creating a plan is to identify your healthy coping skills. Make a list of five coping skills that are feasible for you during treatment. My coping skills were attached to being an athlete before my cancer diagnosis. I had to learn to widen my list, which then included listening to audio books that inspired me, meditation, listening to spa music on Pandora, and writing. That way I had coping skills for the days I did not feel well. Why write down these coping skills? Because the days you need them most are probably the days you will not be able to recall them. Having a list to refer to will be infinitely helpful.

The third step is to define a goal or a theme for your period of treatment that transcends the physical aspects of the disease. This can give a purpose or meaning to your time in treatment. I had 52 chemo treatments, one every week for a year. I felt so overwhelmed that I decided to call it The Year of the Inside Work. I focused my attention on what I could learn about myself, others, life, and the world with cancer as my teacher. I worked on being a better person, mother, partner, and friend. This theme allowed me to focus on something bigger than the cancer or my treatment.

Another step is to identify ways you can take care of yourself. List four or five things that could increase your self-care. This could include anything from having meals delivered to asking someone from your faith community to visit you to adjusting your exercise routine. It can be little or big. For example, I was diagnosed in the autumn, which meant I had Christmas shopping to do for my loved ones. To do good self-care, I ordered all the gifts and gift bags online. This allowed me to still choose gifts for the important people in my life without the physical drain on my energy. Get creative!

Embrace your own emotions from a place of self-compassion. Many celebrities portray their journey with cancer in a positive light and that’s great. There are many life lessons to be taught by cancer. But cancer has its dark days too; those days where gratitude for being alive has faded and you feel worn out and discouraged. Acknowledge those emotions and know that they will pass. I guarantee nothing will be accomplished by beating yourself up for not having a positive attitude. In fact, research shows that shaming yourself is more destructive than constructive to the healing process.

Accepting your own emotions may be difficult if the people in your life need you to be positive because they don’t know how to deal with the raw emotions that come from cancer. You may feel pressure to invalidate your own feelings to ease a loved one’s emotional discomfort. It is important to remind yourself that it is not your job to manage their feelings, especially during this time. A simple, “I’m going to allow myself to experience my own feelings. I trust you can handle yours”, may help to clarify your thoughts with them.

Many people assumed that as a therapist, I would know how to handle my emotions during this time. But emotions following a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming for everyone. Putting together an emotional survival plan will be helpful and can guide you in the most emotionally challenging times. Be sure to include your support people, coping skills, your theme for your treatment period, and your list of self-care strategies. If you follow the plan and are feeling like you need more support, reach out to a therapist in your area who help you talk through the emotions that trouble you.

Breast Cancer? What’s Next? Preparing for Your First Oncology Visit

You have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and now you face the daunting task of meeting with your oncologist for the first time. Most breast cancer patients have a wild array of feelings that overwhelm them, including fear, anger, hope, inadequacy, and more fear. It feels like insanity, but please know that this is normal. Here are some ideas that can make this appointment productive:

As with any initial consultation with a physician, it is important to bring a list of your current medications, information about your family history of cancer, and any insurance information.

Bring someone with you to the initial appointment and as many appointments thereafter as possible. I refer to this person as a chemo buddy. You may feel like you can handle your appointments on your own, but there is a lot of information shared in the first appointment. Your mind will only retain a fraction of it. Having your chemo buddy taking notes will help you refer back to the discussion. Also, as you struggle with fatigue during the chemo and/or radiation process, you will want someone to help you remember details the oncologist tells you. This is not the time to be a Lone Ranger!

Have your chemo buddy bring a notebook to the appointments. The notebook is for you to write down the questions you want to ask the oncologist, with space for answers and information. It should also have space for you to store any documentation, such as pathology reports, test results, and summaries of your appointments. If you are creative, decorating the front of the journal will be a great art project. Or if you have an artistic loved one, ask them to create a beautiful cover for your journal. People want to support during this difficult time.

There are many questions that may be running through your mind, but the following are some of the key questions to ask during the initial appointment.:
• What type of breast cancer do I have?
• What stage is my breast cancer?
• What treatment do you recommend for me?
• How will these treatments affect my five-year survival rate?
• What are the side effects of these treatments? How will having them alter my daily life?
• How quickly do I need to make decisions about my treatment?

It is important for you to pay attention to how you feel during the appointment. This physician will be a key player in your treatment. Do you feel comfortable asking questions? Do you feel like he/she answered your questions in a way you could understand? Do you feel like he/she listened to any concerns you voiced during the appointment? If you have any concerns on these points, it is a good idea to get a second opinion. This will give you peace of mind and help you to decide if the oncologist is a good fit for you.

Finally, reach out to support services available to you, including nursing services, breast cancer support groups, and other breast cancer survivors. This journey is demanding, but you do not have to travel it alone.

The Future Of Genetic Cancer Screening

Cancer is the second-driving cause for death in the United States. In 2015, cancer ended the lives of 595,930 individuals, equaling 22% of all passing’s in the United States, as indicated by the CDC. This number keeps on rising, and it was assessed that before 2017 is over, cancer will have taken more than 600,000 lives last year. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in 2014 $87.8 billion was spent in the U.S. related to health care provided services stemming from cancer. Genetic screenings are accessible to help patients fight the war against the disease. Early detection of cancer helps to assign the proper treatment and heighten survival rates. Early disease testing is accessible for various kinds of malignancies. Genetic testing for predisposition and early detection have positively adjusted the survival rates from various types of cancer growths by up to 35%, as per the National Institutes of Health. Genetic cancer screenings offer multiple positive outcomes, as in, increased survival rates as well as possibly lowering health care costs for both patients and providers.

What Is Genetic Screening?

Genetic testing is a type of medical screening that identifies changes in genes, chromosomes, or proteins. The finding that are discovered during a genetic test can affirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help ascertain a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. There are more than 1,000 genetic tests currently in use.

Enhancing Outcomes

The essential objective is distinguishing proof of the highest risk cancer populations and early growth cancer screening of patients to decrease mortality. Proper early screening may modify mortality rates as well as offer a possibility for a prolonged and offer better quality of life for the patient. For instance, breast cancer is one of the main sources of death among women with a malignancy. Insights delivered by the National Cancer Institute have demonstrated that women who experienced a standard mammogram lessened the danger of death by 15% to 20%. Generally, screening consistence is low, implying that the quantity of people who ought to be tested for specific growths isn’t ideal. For instance, in 2014 the CDC showed that only 65.7% of patients older than 50 had colon malignancy screenings, while 27.3% had been screened at all. Investigators at the University of Michigan found that at risk individuals that had a colon cancer screening could prevent 90% of a cancer diagnosis. According to the CDC, 9 of 10 patients who discovered colon growth through normal screening were still alive 5 years after the initial diagnosis. Additionally, people with a malignancy that took part in counteractive action program, like, way of life adjustments and that stopped smoking, could receive reduced out of pocket costs and lower healthcare benefit premiums. In some instances, early detection and treatment before metastasis can positively alter treatment and results as well.

New Genetic Screen Tests Are Coming

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, led another strategy for malignancy identification known as target error correction sequencing. It is utilized to recognize even the most reduced levels of circling tumor DNA, which is ordinarily discovered in those with early stage growths. In the examination, 200 samples were taken from people with colorectal, breast, ovarian, and lung cancer, which distinguished 62% of stage I and II tumors. What’s also worth mentioning is that, no false positives were found in 44 healthy people who were tested.

Different biomarkers have been recognized for a large group of growths, including breast, colorectal, lung, ovarian, and prostate. In 2016, 15,000 patients with 50 unique kinds of tumors experienced liquid biopsy screening, yielding perceptible changes in 6 distinct sorts of biomarkers, for example, the epidermal development factor receptor communicated in late-arrange lung growths, and proto-oncogene B-Raf, which has been connected to an expanded occurrence of melanoma, with 94% to 100% specificity of comparative tissue biopsies. This could take into account potential focused on treatments intended for gene specific malignancies to be customized and treatment options for those not already qualified. Liquid biopsies could help decrease the danger of disease re-manifesting by finding circulating DNA after colon growth surgery. In 2016, researchers found that by reviewing the metrics from tumor DNA from the blood of patients with stage II colon cancer they could predetermine which patients would be at a higher danger of a recurrence from any lingering residual circulating DNA from the tumor. The individuals who had circulating tumor DNA after surgery will probably endure a repeat diagnosis, individuals who then had genetic liquid biopsies after the cancer extraction would be better equipped to evaluate enhanced post operation treatments. A liquid biopsy then may be an affordable non invasive way to help recognize the individuals who could benefit from postoperative chemotherapy.

Know The Main Causes Of Breast Cancer

In today’s time, we all are aware of the term breast cancer, which happens because of the uncontrollable growth of the cells in the breast. Women are more at the risk of it than the men. It is one of the most common cancer diagnosed in women and is mainly occurs in either the ducts or lobules of the breast. It is important for every woman to take some preventive measures to avoid such awful condition and for this, having a proper knowledge related to its root cause is a must. If you don’t have it, scroll down to grab now.

Causes:

Although the main cause of breast cancer in women is not known yet. Still, there are some factors that increase your risk of getting affected by the disease such as:

Aging: Hard to believe, but it is the truth that aging is one of the common factors. When you start to age, your risk of getting affected by the disease also gets increased.

Alcohol Consumption: Excessive drinking of alcohol also doubles your risk so, you should limit its quantity to avoid it.

Dense Breast Tissue: Another reason that causes the condition is having the dense breast tissue. It may boost the growth of cells that further create the disease.

Early Menstruation: Women who have their periods before the age of 12 are more at the risk of getting afflicted by the disorder than others.

Late Child Birth Or Never Being Pregnant: Women who due to any reason have their very first child at an older age are more at the risk of getting the breast cancer. Also, women who are not able to conceive easily get affected by it.

Previous Or Family History: If you have breast cancer in one breast, so, you are more likely to have it on the other side too. Also, if anyone in your family had it before, so, this may also double your possibilities of breast cancer.

These are a few reasons that increase your risk of getting the breast cancer. And if you are the one who has the condition, so, instead of suffering in silence, go and get the proper treatment that doubles your chances of getting recovered. There are different types of treatment available to heal the problem such as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal or endocrine therapy, etc. Always go to the right breast cancer treatment as per your current condition.

Burst The Myths About The Causes Of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast grow out of control and form a tumor. Having knowledge related to the main cause of the condition is the only way one can prevent themselves from becoming its victim. Though due to lack of knowledge of the disease, there are a number of myths have already taken the place in the people’s mind. And we all know half knowledge is more dangerous than the complete truth, thus, it is important to burst them as soon as possible. In an order to leave such misconceptions behind, take a look down at the following points.

Using Deodorants, Antiperspirants And Shaving Can Cause Breast Cancer: You’ll surprise to know that it’s just an old wives tale nothing else. Yes, using deodorants or any other cosmetic products doesn’t cause you the condition, so, burst the myth right away and use them without worrying.

Breast Implants: Rumors about breast implant or surgery cause breast cancer started as an email hoax that one shouldn’t believe. Yes, there is no proven evidence that it may increase your risk of getting the disease or causes you the condition. So, if you are planning to undergo such surgery, go ahead, as there is no such risk concerned to it.

Wearing Under Wired Bras: Whether you believe or not, but, there is no connection between the type of bra you wear or breast cancer. And all you need to get hear about under wired bra cause the condition is not more than just a misconception that you need to burst right away. Just find the perfect fit as per your body type to avoid any pain or discomfort.

Contact With Someone Who Already Has The Condition: Just because any of your friend or family one going through the condition, so, it may increase your chances of getting it too is just a folk tale. Breast cancer is not contagious, which means you are safe and don’t need to make a distance from the person, who is suffering from it.

These are a few myths that one needs to break before time flies, as these are keeping you away from living a normal and healthy life. So, you should burst them to come out of your dilemma and to face and live the reality. If you ever found something unusual in your body, especially in your breasts, go and consult a doctor to know it better, as it saves you from digging into the rumors.

Latest Advancement in Breast Cancer Treatment

The latest advanced therapies can be an alternative to traditional therapies for breast cancer patients. These therapies are Cryosurgical Ablation (CSA), Seed Knife Therapy (Brachytherapy), Percutaneous Ablation, Combined Immunotherapy and Targeted Chemotherapy.

1. Cryosurgical Ablation (CSA):

Cryosurgery is an important ablation technique for tumors. It destroys tumors by cycles of freezing and thawing. Cryosurgery’s destructive effects on tumors are due to two major mechanisms, one immediate, the other delayed. The immediate mechanism is the damaging effect of freezing and thawing the cells. The delayed mechanism is the progressive failure of microcirculation; ultimately, vascular stasis becomes operative as an important cause of tumor tissue destruction. Once the temperature falls below -40oC, ice crystals may form within the cells. Once it occurs, cell death is almost certain. During cryosurgery, progressive failure of microcirculation occurs due to a cascade of events: endothelial layer destruction causing vessel walls to become porous, interstitial edema, platelet aggregation, microthrombii, and ultimately vascular congestion and obliteration. It was theorized that during cryosurgery, the immune system of the host became sensitized to the tumor being destroyed by the cryosurgery. Any primary tumor tissue undamaged by the cryosurgery and the metastases were destroyed by the immune system after cryosurgery. This response was termed the “cryo-immunological response”.

2. Seed Knife Therapy (Brachytherapy)

Seed Knife Therapy (Brachytherapy) is used for breast cancer treatment, Seed implantation with iodine-125 or palladium-103 seeds (brachytherapy) is a highly effective treatment for patients with cancer. Brachytherapy requires no surgical incision, offers patients a shorter recovery time, and has less chance of troubling side effects. For example, for prostate cancer, brachytherapy is an outpatient procedure and most patients go home the same day as their treatment. They can also return to their normal activities a few days after treatment. Seed implantation takes only 45 minutes to 1 hour. Seed implantation with iodine-125 seed gives a lower dose rate of radiation than palladium-103. Because iodine-125 works in your body longer than palladium-103, it is ideal for treating slow growing tumors such as most prostate cancers. The 125 iodine seeds-which have a half -life of 59 days-release a short-course of gamma ray. The seeds implanted into cancerous masses and nearby tissue radiate targeted cells and ultimately destroy cancer. This prevents unnecessarily exposing the whole body to radiation.

3. Percutaneous Ablation

Thermal injury to cells begins at 42? Only 8 minutes at 46? Is needed to kill malignant cells, and 51? Can be lethal after only 2 minutes. At temperatures above 60? Intracellular proteins are denatured (killed) rapidly, cell membranes are destroyed through dissolution and the melting of lipid bilayers, and lastly, cell death is inevitable. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a new technique for treating tumors localized to certain organs. A needle electrode is advanced into the targeted tumors via either a percutaneous, laparoscopic, or open (operation) route. The RF energy causes the tissue around the tip of the probe to heat up to a high temperature above which cells break apart and die. For eradication of all cancerous cells, the goal is to place the probes so that they destroy the entire tumor plus an adequate “rim” of non-cancerous tissue around it.

4. Combined Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy, also known as CIC-combined immunotherapy for cancer-has increasingly become the focus for cancer researchers. The past 10 years have seen an increased understanding of immuno-surveillance and appreciation of the mechanisms by which tumors escape its notice. This has led to the development of promising new strategies against cancer, such as immunotherapy, which is focused on increasing of the body’s natural immune functions against cancer cells.

5. Targeted Chemotherapy

Targeted Chemotherapy is can be an alternative as it leaves minimal side effect as compared to traditional chemotherapy. Targeted therapies are drugs or other substances designed to block the growth and spread of cancer by preventing cancer cells from dividing or by destroying them directly. While standard chemotherapy affects all cells in the body, targeted therapy directs drugs or other specially created substances (e.g., immune system proteins developed in the lab) to attack cancer cells. The goal of targeted therapy is to interfere with genes or proteins involved in tumor growth to block the spread of the disease.

By targeting specific molecules that are responsible for the growth, progression and spread of cancer, targeted therapy differs from standard chemotherapy, which attacks the disease systemically and, therefore, also damages healthy cells. Because targeted therapy specifically seeks out cancer cells, it is designed to reduce the harm to healthy cells, which may lead to fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy.

Targeted therapies serve as the foundation of precision medicine, which uses information about a tumor’s DNA profile to identify additional treatment options. Tailored treatments target abnormalities that may be found in each tumor’s DNA profile. This innovation marks a shift from traditional treatments designed for the average patient, toward more precise therapies.

Targeted therapy is an evolving science, and not all cancer types may be treated with targeted drugs. Several targeted therapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in cancer treatment, including hormone therapies, signal transduction inhibitors, apoptosis inducers, gene expression modulators, angiogenesis inhibitors and toxin delivery molecules.

Genetic Screening for Cancer Helps Save Lives

According to the American Cancer Society, there are approximately 1.8 million people who will contract cancer annually. Of those, roughly 156 in 100,00 will lose their lives to the disease. Thankfully, there exists ways today to lower the risk of getting cancer.

Advances in medicine now make it possible to predict the probability of many cancers and position both patient and physician to take proactive preventative action to lower the risk of cancer in many cases.

Genetic testing involves medical testing to discover if there are mutations in an individuals genes. A relatively new advance in the world of medicine, genetic screening has proven to be both effective in helping to lower the risks of cancer and save lives.

One powerful application for genetic testing is to look for changes in genes that are linked to cancer. These gene changes are called mutations and help determine the probability and risk to the patient in getting specific cancers

Genetic testing for cancer is testing used to search for inherited gene mutation which may indicate a higher risk of contracting cancer.

Genetic Cancer Screening may be appropriate if an individual has

  • A family history of cancer. The test would help determine if the individual has a gene mutation that increases risk.
  • A person has cancer. Genetic cancer screening might show if there a high risk of the individual contracting other types of cancer.
  • Family members of a cancer patient may want to take a genetic screening test to determine if they are at risk of contracting cancer.
  • This will give them a heads up that can be used for preventative or other action under the care of their physician. This has the potential to stop cancer form spreading to family members who share the same genetic makeup and potentially save lives now and in the future
  • Some of the common cancers that are screened in the test include breast cancer, colon cancer, cancer of the eye, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer and others

Genetic screening for cancer involves a simple test that can be done at home after approved by a doctor. The patient will receive an easy to use kit and will take a swab. After the test, the material is sent to the laboratory as directed where the test will be conducted

The test is completed at a laboratory and the results reported to the prescribing physician who will share the report with the patient and make suggestions for any possibly recommended course of action to lower risk