It's important to care for your whole self

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:

Seeking icon

Seeking help from
other patients

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.

Women at table
Patient Groups
Patient Groups Icon

Patient groups

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 >

Woman exercising
Self Help Icon

Self-help

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

Healthcare team icon

Your healthcare team and
professional services

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
    Counsellors are trained to listen and help people deal with difficult situations. Talking one-to-one with a trained counsellor can help you express and understand your feelings. It can also help you find ways to cope with these feelings or the problems they relate to. GP practices and hospitals often have their own counsellors. If they do not, they should be able to refer you to one.1
     
  • Clinical Psychologist
    Sometimes strong emotions can feel overwhelming and difficult to cope with. These feelings can affect your thinking and behaviour. Some people may have physical symptoms of anxiety or depression such as pain, difficulty sleeping or breathlessness. If your symptoms become overwhelming and hard to manage, you may find it helpful to see a clinical psychologist. Clinical psychologists are often part of the hospital cancer team and they are specialists in providing psychological and emotional support to people with advanced cancer and your cancer doctors or your nurses will be able to make a referral.1
Patient Groups Icon

Emotional support for family and friends

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

References

  1. Macmillan Cancer Support. Coping with Advanced Breast Cancer. Available online at: https://be.macmillan.org.uk/Downloads/CancerInformation/LivingWithAndAfterCancer/MAC11626E11NCoping-with-advanced-cancerlowresPDF20190221.pdf [Last accessed: September 2021]

UK | SEPTEMBER 2021 | 124206

You know you best

Make your next appointment count

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

This website is part of a programme that is funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited. Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited is a private limited liability company registered in England and Wales under number 119006. Registered office 2nd Floor, The WestWorks Building, White City Place, 195 Wood Lane, London, W12 7FQ. Use of this website is governed by our Terms of Use and the Cookies and Privacy Policy.

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.