Coping with Breast Cancer - Guarding your Psychological Health
Breast cancer or breast carcinoma is one of the oncological diseases which affects the quality of the (QL) of anyone who have been diagnosed with this disease whether woman or man, and by extension their families and loved ones. In Jamaica, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death mainly in women. Patients that have been diagnosed, with breast cancer often experience high levels of anxiety and depression, which over time worsens their QL (Tang et al., 2017).
The emotions that one experience at the point of hearing those three little words "You have Breast cancer" is mind-boggling filled with a rush of emotions that often times are unexplainable. Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers as also a complex and traumatizing disease, considered to be a systemic one. A woman or man with breast cancer is likely to be faded with multiple concerns that can vary widely and change overtime.
Studies have proven that persons diagnosed with breast cancer have found high levels of psychiatric morbidity/illness and mental distress, in particular, anxiety and affective disorders (Gallagher et al., 2002, Kissane et al., 1998). There is evidence that suggests that patients with primary breast cancer will remain vulnerable to psychological disorders for many years after their diagnoses (Antoni et al., 2017, Cohee et al., 2017, Schmidt et al., 2018).
In Jamaica, like other countries around the world, the psychological trauma and endured emotional distress during and after cancer treatment arising from a breast cancer diagnosis is the same. The psychological reactions to a cancer diagnosis can include depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and relational distress which negatively impacts the patient's family and love ones.
A cancer patient will need various types of counselling after diagnosis. The Jamaica R2R provides such through the support and sharing of experiences of each other and through meeting activities and planned social events.
The sisters at the Jamaica Reach to Recovery ensure that all survivors are a part of our family. We make ourselves visible in the hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and even at the home of breast cancer survivors giving the requisite guidance, sharing our journey and assuring these survivors that a breast cancer diagnoses is not a death sentence. This is very important because according to Roberts, Cox and Shannon et al, "women with poor support are more likely to experience the additional burden of psychological difficulties", the diagnosis of cancer already a mental anguish.
When a survivor is a part of group such as the Jamaica Reach to Recovery often times they are able to identify with other sisters and able to interact positively to others around them even if they were faced with psychological difficulties prior. Even though the sisters at the Jamaica Reach to Recovery aren't trained counselors the camaraderie that exist within the group and the sharing of their stories more often than not assist these survivors to have a positive approach to this disease by allowing them to realize that they are not alone in the fight.
Reflect on life and one’s health. Giving thanks for all the positives and ignoring the negatives.