Recovering from a mastectomy is a complex process that affects every woman differently. From dealing with depression and grief to choosing breast reconstruction after mastectomy, adopting a few healthy coping mechanisms can help get you through the rough patches and rebuild your self esteem as you work your way through recovery.
Along with the physical toll on your body, a breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy will also take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Creating space to address all of your needs is a healthy and important part of the recovery process.
Undergoing breast cancer surgery can produce feelings of loss similar to losing a relationship or loved one. Acknowledging your feelings and allowing yourself the time to grieve after a mastectomy for the amount of time that feels appropriate for you is an important part of the recovery process.
Like many life-altering experiences, going through breast cancer can lead many women to re-evaluate many aspects of their lives, which can create space to follow a different path or pursue a dormant passion that might have seemed out of reach or even frivolous before. From painting and writing to learning to play an instrument, art therapy and creative expression can help you to get in touch with and express your feelings in a safe and positive way.
Maybe you always wanted to learn to speak French, or sew a dress, or knit a sweater by hand. Developing a new skill can offer a number of benefits, from distracting you from worrisome and negative thoughts to helping to relieve stress and build confidence as you begin to master new skills.
The American Cancer Society and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend regular exercise for breast cancer survivors. The benefits of physical activity, from running and yoga to weight training and brisk walking, include lowering the risk of recurrence, managing the potential side effects of treatment, and helping with stress, anxiety, and depression. Discuss your options with your doctor to find the activity and intensity levels that are right for you. And if you hate the gym or need a change of pace, consider something out of the ordinary like ballroom dancing or hiking.
Doing research and getting informed about your options can help you to feel empowered and restore a sense of control over your body. There are several options for breast reconstruction after mastectomy which can be performed immediately after the surgery, or further down the road if additional treatment is necessary or you need more time to decide on the right choice for you.
At the Texas Center for Breast and Body in Houston, you can choose from several options including implants (saline or silicone), reconstructing the breast from skin and tissue from your abdomen if possible, or a combination of the two.
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