A Solo Mom’s guide to a breast cancer diagnosis
There are too many things to think about when facing a breast cancer diagnosis, and Solo Moms have extra responsibilities to add to the list. It can be emotionally exhausting and scary to go through alone. When facing a breast cancer diagnosis, making good choices and keeping your thoughts as positive as possible will help ease the immense load on your back and help you navigate through treatment and your future options for you and your children.
Take care of yourself. Your first step is to take a deep breath—literally. It’s time to take good care of yourself and get as much help as you can from your doctors, friends, and family. You can also do a lot of self-care.
Meditate. Deep breathing and meditative exercises are proven to lower stress, help relieve some health symptoms, and relax the mind. Try starting with five minutes two times per day and working up to 30 or more minutes two times per day. You can find more informative information at the website How to Meditate, including videos and more about starting a spiritual practice that works for you and your lifestyle.
Harness the power of intention. You can find a lot of literature, books, and online material about how the “power of intention” can help heal the body. Daily affirmations, audiobooks, and more can be found on sites such as HealYourLife.com, where Louise Hay and Dr. Wayne Dyer have created a wealth of information and daily affirmations to ease stress and bring positive energy into your life during your treatments and recovery period.
Practice yoga, go to the gym, and maintain general fitness. Keep up your regular routine as much as you can. Treatment can get physically demanding, so don’t be hard on yourself if you need to rest. When you have energy, and with a doctor’s consent, physical fitness will keep you strong and help your immune system fight off colds and other ailments. Read “Healing Refuge” on YogaJournal.com about a woman’s journey with breast cancer and yoga.
Enhance your treatment with massage, acupuncture, and Eastern medicine. There are many alternative routes you can take to enhance your cancer treatments, including massage, acupuncture, and Eastern medicine. All are thought to reduce the discomfort of treatment, tumors, and the spread of cancer. Breastcancer.org has an informative page on complementary medicine: how it works, points to think about, and its healing benefits.
Choose your doctors carefully. It’s time to choose your team. From the time you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you will work with a group of specialists that may include: a medical oncologist, a surgical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a care manager/case worker, and possibly an oncology nurse and a registered dietitian.
You will want to find professionals whom you are comfortable with and who understand what important lifestyle choices you may have, will be able to work with you as a Solo Mom, and be able to explain your treatment options in a way that is easy for you to understand. Never stay with a doctor or medical professional if you feel bullied, nervous, or that he or she is not willing to explore alternative options that interest you.
Ask for help. As a Solo Mom, we are used to taking on so many roles for our children. When we need help the most, we often forget to ask for it. Don’t isolate yourself during this time. Do you have a trusted friend or family member to turn to? Your friends and family want to help you. Let them be by your side and watch your children so you can go to appointments or run errands. Let them bring you meals and drive you to your treatments. It may feel uncomfortable to let go of the reins, but doing so could help you reduce stress and gain the comfort you deserve.
Educate yourself. Getting to know your disease is very important, and having access to information and survivor stories will help you and those closest to you be able to support and help you along the way. If your child is older, you should take the opportunity to share your diagnosis and educate him or her with survivor stories and information about your disease. Your child will be less scared and more understanding when you explain what you are doing to fight the illness and he or she knows that there are so many survivors. A wealth of resources can be found in this article on ESME.com.
Become active in the cancer community. Get busy and put the focus on being with others by finding support groups and activities that support breast cancer. When you connect with the many women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer, you will find an instant community. Your children will find support as well. Your community will become especially important during your treatment and recovery period.
Seek financial and emotional support. Times are tough enough for Solo Moms as it is, so when illness comes knocking, look for some financial and emotional support from organizations such as CancerCare and The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care. More information also can be found on ESME.com in this informative article.
Join our confidential community of Sisters to find other Solo Moms who are living with breast cancer.
Rebecca Cherry is an accomplished musician, writer, and creative seeker. She is enjoying her new role as a Solo Mom to her baby girl. You can follow her on Twitter at @CherryRebecca and Facebook at Rebecca Cherry.
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