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24 Sep 2017

Toronto

By Gracie Carroll

7 Ways To Navigate The New Normal For Women Living With Breast Cancer

By MJ Decoteau

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime – this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For its 5th year, Rethink Breast Cancer is encouraging Canadians to shop it good with the launch of the #RethinkPink Partnership Collection.

Rethink Breast Cancer is the only national charity dedicated to educating, empowering and advocating for young people affected by breast cancer. It has experienced a dramatic shortfall in critical funding throughout the pandemic making it a vulnerable cause. A percentage of the #RethinkPink collection proceeds from product sales and services will allow Rethink to carry out vital programming throughout the year.

Navigating the new normal as a woman concerned about or living with breast cancer can be extremely challenging at this time. Being thrust into a whirlwind of shock, confusion, anger after a breast cancer diagnosis can feel like a lesson in losing control. Rethink Breast Cancer asked their community and came up with a list of considerations to keep in mind to help those who are newly diagnosed reclaim a sense of agency during this time.

1. START A CANCER DIARY

Who hasn’t mentally rehearsed the important questions for your doctor only to draw a blank as soon as you’re face to face with them? The solution: A notebook to keep all of your questions, symptoms and thoughts that you can easily refer to. Face time with your doctor is precious so you’ll want to ensure your appointments are as concise as possible. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse for some pretty new stationery?

2. ASK FOR A COPY OF YOUR PATHOLOGY REPORT

When it comes to breast cancer, you have a type. Yes, your report will contain a lot of scary words you’ll wish you didn’t need to deal with. However, understanding your diagnosis will help you feel empowered to work with alongside your medical team as you move through the next steps of your cancer experience.

3. BRING SOMEONE TO YOUR APPOINTMENTS

Isolation can happen in the most mundane moments, like being decades younger than anyone else in the waiting room. Plus, there is so much going on in your head that you are bound to need an assist from a family member or good friend who can help you rehash it all after the fact. Some people even bring a voice recorder (or use voice memos on an iPhone) to ensure they don’t miss any key details.

4. STAY OFF GOOGLE

Dr. Google is never a good idea, trust us, but go ahead and get social. Finding an online community like the Rethink Young Women’s Network (RYWN) can help you connect with other like-minded women who are living a shared cancer experience and willing to answer your questions and help you navigate your new normal.

5. PACK A PREP BAG

If you’re going through chemo, having a dedicated bag filled with comfort items, such as a water bottle and treats you actually like, is really helpful. If you’re a voracious reader, bring a good book. Prefer TV? Downloading a new series to watch while you’re passing time at your long appointment is helpful too! For more ideas for your chemo bag, click here.

6. MAKE TIME FOR MEAL PREP

We all know the benefits of good meal prep but having healthy ready-made meals and snacks prepared before treatment starts is a game-changer. Not only is it one less item on your overwhelming to-do list, but it can also help save time and money. If loved ones are asking for ways to help, a meal train is a great start.

7. CREATE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

During these unprecedented times, forming a support system outside your extended family is important. Rethink Breast Cancer is your home to seek out available resources and programs that will help you feel secure and a part of a community that consists of resilient women who have been affected by breast cancer. To learn more, visit: rethinkbreastcancer.com.

xo

@EDITSEVEN

(Story Contributed by Rethink Breast Cancer Founder, MJ Decoteau)

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