Photo source: 144638_MP9_8840 by Disney | ABC Television Group
When someone is cured of breast cancer, most people associate survival with a general feeling of celebration and happiness. But breast cancer isn't just about the medical treatment or the science behind the ability to kill off cancer cells successfully. When someone suffers from cancer, they are affected by the disease also suffers in many ways beyond just the physical ramifications endured.
Cancer can leave survivors with both physical and emotional scars
The aftermath of any cancer survivor isn't without its scars, both physical and emotional. Surgeries are often necessary, leaving behind varying levels of markings that can forever remind someone of the fear and uncertainty they once endured. It's a real and horrifying fear that is not easily brushed off by even the most strong-minded individuals.
Rita Wilson is an actress and singer who was lucky enough to be a survivor
Rita Wilson is a breast cancer survivor who shares with the public her experience with cancer treatment and the aftermath of survival. Wilson was one of the lucky women who found herself cancer-free just months after being diagnosed in 2015. The well-known actress and singer shared that battling cancer doesn't end with a successful cure. It's actually the end of one chapter, and the start of a new chapter as another battle begins with remission.
For Rita, surviving cancer wasn't an easy process
When you're going through treatment for your cancer, you have to go through various procedures and interventions. There's always something to be done that you need to take care of. For Rita, she had to go through a double mastectomy one month after finding out the devastating news. Emotionally, she wasn't prepared to deal with the aftermath of this fact until well after it had already occurred.
Wilson says that going through treatment always leaves you with a sort of aftershock when it's all over. It's almost like you're left with a shadow of yourself, wondering what had happened to you and your body. She first tried to deal with her mastectomy by simply brushing it off and moving on with regular life - so she threw herself back into her work. Just a month after her mastectomies, she went back to working on a play that she had started prior to her initial diagnosis.
Rita pushed herself after her treatment, but her body needed rest
It was probably all too soon for Rita to be working. Looking back on her decision to return to work, Wilson feels that she may have pushed her body a little too much. It was a lot and her body was tired. She now recognizes that she probably should have taken 8 more weeks of rest after her surgery. But at the time, work was what she knew could put a distracting band-aid on the unrest she felt following her diagnosis and treatment.
Coping with cancer after remission can still take a toll on someone's life
Like Wilson, many women find it difficult to cope with the realities of breast cancer treatment. Radiation and surgical resections can drastically change the appearance of your body, especially the curves that make a woman feel feminine. There are many reconstructive options out there, but oftentimes women simply don't feel the same after having an intimate part of their bodies removed. The changes that happen can also negatively impact a woman's body image and sex life, resulting in emotional distress and a decline in quality of life. Some women, like Wilson, try to keep busy by distracting themselves. That way, they can escape and ignore any emotional distress that may result from these changes in their body. But going back to work too soon can put unnecessary strain on your health too. It's a difficult time even after recovery to take care of yourself as a cancer survivor.
Wilson shares her own confusion and anxiety
For Wilson, she admits that despite being physically healthy again, she was emotionally distraught from the experience. Though the doctors gave her a great prognosis and predicted a positive outcome for her disease, she couldn't help but feel confused and anxious about the whole ordeal. Cancer is a big deal, and having gone through it left Wilson feeling anxious about her health.
To appease her worries, Wilson has begun to adopt new routines that she never followed before, She has limited her alcohol intake and has committed to exercising more regularly. She's also been practicing mindfulness and meditation and has also been trying cognitive behavioral therapy as well.
Wilson believes that her therapy is one of the most important components of her post-cancer healing. She often feels anxious, wondering if her cancer will return to haunt her. The therapy is the best way for her to curb these anxieties and keep her mind happy and healthy.
Wilson takes charge of her own mental health
With help and time, Wilson has learned that she can control her own thoughts with meditation, mindfulness, and therapy. She's decided that if she's going to create a fantasy, she needs to create an amazing one rather than a sad one. That's how she's learned to cope with her worries of cancer returning, by replacing the thoughts of bad health.
Anxiety and depression can be incredibly difficult to treat
It seems simple enough, but it's easier said than done. Anxiety and depression are extremely difficult to treat, and it takes practice and determination to be able to have control over the thoughts that swim around in your subconscious. That's why having the help of therapists can help you achieve these difficult mind maneuvers. If you're a cancer survivor, don't be afraid to seek professional help to manage these anxieties! You may be surprised to find just how helpful simple mind exercises and practices can be to help change your perspective and relieve anxiety.
It's important to remember that cancer isn't just a disease that affects the tissues in the body. Cancer affects a person as a whole, a person who has a life, family, and career, among other things. When cancer strikes, simply receiving medical treatment doesn't cure a person holistically. We must address the psychological aftermath and changes that affect a person's life after enduring such a life-changing disease.