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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I manage stress as a breast cancer patient?

    Ever since being diagnosed with breast cancer I have been constantly worried, depressed and stressed. I worry about my future, the future of my family and how my physical appearance has changed. How can I manage these emotions?
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  • 1


    Kaitlin Edin


    Kaitlin Edin has been in practice since 2009 and has worked in a variety of clinical situations including group and private practice; as well as … View Profile

    Living with a diagnosis of breast cancer can be a profoundly worrying and upsetting time, but as is so often the case, the way we manage our feelings and responses during times of stress can ensure that we get through the challenges and threats with ourselves intact.

    The talking therapies like psychology and counselling can be very helpful and of course you need to find a therapist that you trust and like, someone who listens to your concerns and gives you a strong sense of support.
    Interestingly though, acupuncture can be very helfpul during times of change, transition and health stress.
    There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that acupuncture and herbal medicine can reduce the side effects of radiation or chemotherapy, and is generally well tolerated by patients.
    Even those who might be ‘needle phobic’, or just feeling especially sensitive, acupuncture as practiced in the Japanese style is very gentle,  and can employ strategies without the use of the ‘pins’.
    Acupuncture is often used to induce deep relaxation, which can be elusive when you are depressed, worried and stressed. Acupuncture it seems helps to 'switch off' that adrenal ‘fight or flight’ response we have in times of stress.

    Imagine a tap turned all the way on with water just pouring out… that's a little bit like how your adrenal gland is working pumping out cortisol when your stressed… turning those taps off enables the body to come out of that ‘full throttle’ mode and into a place where we can breathe and reevaluate and respond to our challenges in a calmer and clearer way.
    And truly this often can make all the difference to how we then envisage and embody ourselves.

  • 1


    Lyn Craven

    Bowen Therapist, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner

    I specialise in gastrointestinal health problems, (leaky gut syndrome, allergies, bloating, candida, IBS, constipation, dysbiosis, reflux), women's health, back/neck pain, RSI, carpel tunnel syndrome, rotating/tilting … View Profile

    Managing stress during breast cancer can be done by practicing daily meditation, receiving Reiki energy healing treatments or seeking out a therapist that is trained in offering massage for particular cancer cases - the latter I do not offer.
    Homoeopathic's can be administered to help with anxiety and stress which will not interfere with conventional treatments.  In all cases natural remedies support the conventional medical treatments and serve to enhance the program the person is undertaking encouraging a positive outcome.
    Many medical people are not trained to issues such remedies, many do not believe in them and often tell a person not to take them either fearing they will interfere with conventional treatments of doubting their effectiveness as a financial waste of money.  It is a shame that many medical people do not consult with naturopath's with this regard so the person is not left in a confused state as to what to do.

  • 1


    Joanna Jaques

    Exercise Physiologist

    Joanna Jaques is the principal Exercise Physiologist and owner of Active Partnerships, a private practice located in Mosman, Sydney. With over 10 years in the … View Profile

    Managing the side effects of cancer and treatment itself, is crucial to maintain well-being and overall quality of life.  Exercise is one such strategy which has shown to have many positive benefits for cancer patients, helping to manage stress and improve psychological health, both during and after treatment.  Exercise helps to manage stress in a number of ways.  Firstly, even a short bout of exercise will help to release endorphins, the “feel good” hormone, giving an immediate lift in mood.  Regular exercise has also been associated with more prolonged mood enhancing effects and also a lower incidence of anxiety and depression.  Regular exercise helps to increase energy levels, combat fatigue and restore strength and endurance helping to improve physical well-being and increasing self-esteem.  Exercise, while under-going cancer treatment, should be of a light to moderate intensity and gradually paced for each individual.  An Exercise Physiologist can help to establish a safe starting point for exercise and provide motivation and support to establish a regular routine.

  • 1


    Dr Toni Lindsay

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Toni Lindsay is a clinical psychologist whose expertise is working with children, adolescents and adults living with chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, … View Profile

    Hi There,

    The symptoms you are describing are actual normal emotional responses to being diagnosed with a life threatening illness. The difficulties of gaining a sense of “normal” given everything that you have just been through really challenging, and patients often tell me it feels like they feel very lost and confused with what to do with their experience, when everyone else continues to move through life as nothing has happened.

    This stuff, even though its really common, is really tough to manage, particularly if you dont have someone who understands this. I would recommend a couple of avenues if you think talking about it might help. Obviously finding a counsellor/psychologist who is a specialist in cancer would be a good option (they will usually have this service at the hospital that you have been treated at) or there are psychologists in the community who are experts in cancer. Breast cancer support groups can also be a good option, as its an opportunity to meet other patients who have “been there” to help guide you.

    Toni :)

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