Breast cancer does much more than assault your body. It messes with your head. The trauma of that first diagnosis, followed by the physical challenges of treatment, be it surgery, radiation, chemo or all of the above, all pack a powerful emotional punch.
That's why it's so important to take care of you – your mental health – right from the start. Some surprisingly simple things can help. Even the right article of clothing can make a big difference.
For example, after surgery your range of motion may be pretty near zero. You won't be able to lift your arm. You can feel frustrated, or you can be ready with lightweight shirts and tops with front closures, which are easy to slip on.
Grab a lightweight jacket or a soft shawl for both emotional comfort and warmth.
Make sure you have a high-quality, postsurgical bra. Good ones are made from a soft, gauze-like material and have Velcro front closures.
Once you've got your gear, get out there! A gentle walk, a beginner’s yoga class or an art therapy class can literally move you into a better frame of mind.
And sure, eating can be a battle, but fresh vegetables and fruits, plenty of protein and lots of water will help with fatigue.
You can also boost your spirits in other ways: Keep a journal, get a massage, load up on Netflix and audiobooks. Meditate, on your own or in a class.
Perhaps the best self-help strategy is to help someone else. Be a guide for those newer to the cancer journey. Or get away from cancer altogether and reach out to others in need: Read to an elderly person or tutor a homeless child at the library.
Above all, remember: You're a human, not a machine, and recovery is not a straight line. You'll feel lousy some days, and you won't know why. And you'll feel fantastic some days, and you won't know why. Totally normal. Listen to your body, go easy on yourself and do the best you can.