Your mental health matters
Learning about and living with secondary breast cancer can be extremely stressful. Prioritising your mental and physical health may help you develop mechanisms to manage your stress.
A patient’s journey is deeply personal, and no two experiences are the same but many people living with advanced breast cancer feel excluded and isolated. Acknowledging your feelings by recognising your emotions and allowing yourself to feel for example angry, scared or sad is one of the many ways that may come in handy when working on your mental health.
Below are a number of options for you to seek help for yourself, or from your healthcare team:
You might find you receive comfort and support by talking with other patients who have been through what you are going through and understand your journey.
Our advocates provide a platform for patients, allowing them to express personal stories, reflect on diagnosis and treatment journeys and offer tips on how to communicate emotions and needs with loved ones and healthcare teams.
There are many useful resources that have been developed to offer emotional and mental health support for patients. You can find helplines, forums as well as recommendations on the best apps and free services you can use.
You can also view the Macmillan Emotions and Mental Health support page > or Breast Cancer Now > or Make 2nds Count >
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a specific technique that may also be helpful when working on your mental health. It uses meditation, yoga and breathing techniques of mindfulness. It also uses some cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help you change unhelpful thought patterns.1
There are a few centres in the UK that offer MBCT classes on the NHS and you can talk to your healthcare team to find out where classes are available.1
Some people also find that keeping a diary or journal helps them express their thoughts and feelings. Simply reaching out to friends and family can also be an effective way to maintain your mental health. The combination of different methods detailed above may also be helpful. For example, if when talking with a family member they struggle to understand your feelings, you may find that reading them a section of your journal allows them to comprehend what you mean.1
Some people find it easier to talk to someone outside of their family and friends. Your GP, oncologist, or doctors and nurses at the hospital will usually ask how you are feeling. This will give you the chance to talk to them about your feelings and emotions if you want to. You may already feel comfortable enough with them to do this. Or you could tell them that you are struggling with your feelings and would like to talk to someone.
CBT is a talking therapy that can help you to recognise any unhelpful thoughts. It can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
Your healthcare team may also be able to refer you to someone who is trained to listen and provide advice, such as a counsellor. Or if you are finding it difficult to cope, you may need more specialised emotional support from a psychologist.
Counselling is also on offer for friends and family who are finding it difficult to cope. Some psychological services will also offer support to carers and family members. Your healthcare team, your cancer doctors or your nurses should be able to make a referral.1
Download the guide for more information
UK | SEPTEMBER 2021 | 124206
You know you best
Your healthcare team is your best resource throughout your treatment. Talk openly and often with them about your doubts, questions and concerns. It might make you feel more in control if you take some time to plan for your appointment. Making notes before, during and after can help you retain information and make the most of your visits. We have developed a guide to support you in having these conversations with some tips to help you get the information you need.
Download your Moments That Count appointment guide
If you get side effects with any medication you are taking, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.This includes any possible side effects not listed in the information leaflet that comes in the pack. You can report side effects via the Yellow Card Scheme at https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/ (UK). By reporting side effects, you can help provide more information on the safety of your medication.
The Moments That Count campaign has been developed and funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited, with insights from breast cancer patients.
©2021 Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd - UK | September 2021 | 124182 - This site is intended for an audience in the UK.