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Breast Cancer Surgery

Emotional self care and awareness

It can be hard to talk about having breast cancer. Some people find it helpful to talk to friends and family. Speaking with others might help you:

  • Understand the information better.
  • Get the support you need.
  • Create a support network. You may want to have 1 person keep others updated for you.
  • Feel in control of your own treatment plan so you’re comfortable asking questions.

Difficult emotions often arise during cancer and its treatments. Psychologists and social workers offer counselling to patients and family members to help reduce emotional distress and explore coping techniques.

They help with things such as communication, stress, coping with treatment side effects, mood changes, quality of life, body image, or loneliness. Once you have a confirmed cancer diagnosis, you or your support persons can ask for a referral to the cancer counselling professionals (Psychosocial Oncology).

For more information, download Newly diagnosed with cancer (PDF) or visit Cancer Care Alberta: Newly Diagnosed with Cancer​.


What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, or being nervous and is a normal feeling for patients and families to have when going through a cancer diagnosis.

People who learn about their cancer and treatment options may feel more in control and have less anxiety. Be ready for your appointments with a written list of questions, and bring a support person if you can.

What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety?

  • Feeling restless, worried, or not able to relax
  • Feeling moody or stressed
  • Tense muscles
  • Trouble sleeping

Some people have strong anxiety which can cause anxiety attacks. You may feel:

  • Feelings of doom
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations (your heart feels like it is fluttering or pounding)
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Chest pains

What can I do to help my anxiety or depression?

  • Talk to someone you trust and who is a good listener – friends, family, or co-workers.
  • Talk to a social worker about support programs at your cancer centre and in your community.
  • Get professional help. Professional counsellors can help you learn new ways to manage your anxiety and worry.
  • Focus on things that make you feel better.
  • Think about the positive parts of your life and the things you can control.
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh and avoid those who are negative.
  • Get a good sleep – this can give you more energy and help you feel better emotionally.
  • Exercise and take care of your body. It’s a good way to help you feel better and improve your mood.
  • Some people find writing in a journal or expressing their feelings through art can help.
  • Try to limit or avoid alcohol because it can lower your mood.
  • Try relaxation activities like listening to music, yoga, or deep breathing.​

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