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Breast Cancer Surgery

Coping with breast cancer surgery


​When you have breast cancer surgery, you may wonder about pain, changes to your breast or breasts, and future treatment. You may wonder how you’ll manage responsibilities at home or work. It’s common to have many feelings (e.g., anger, sadness, hope) all in one day. Your healthcare team can help you find the support or answers you need.

Emotional support

Everyone copes with breast cancer and breast surgery in their own way. There isn’t a right way to talk to others about your diagnosis or your treatment plan. Who you talk to and what you say depends on each relationship. You’ll make the right choice for you.

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.

It’s normal to have questions and concerns about body image and sexuality. You may have unexpected feelings from the changes to your body from surgery or treatment. This is different for everyone. If you can talk about these feelings with your partner, family, and friends, you’ll feel less alone when dealing with these changes.

If you’d like more help, talk to:

  • Someone in your community who you trust.
  • Any member of your healthcare team.

Finances, insurance, and drug coverage

The cost of your breast surgery is covered by Alberta Health Care. But there are other costs that go along with your cancer treatment(s) that you may not have thought of. For example:

  • How long you’ll need to be off work for surgery and recovery.
  • Your insurance coverage for some of the medicines used for treatment.
  • Extra costs such as parking and hotels.

You may be able to get help to pay for some of these costs. If you have concerns, it’s important to speak to your healthcare team right away. They may be able to help you find the supports you need.

Remember:

  • You may be able to claim medical costs when you file your taxes. Keep all of your treatment-related receipts (e.g., parking, travel, and hotels) and write the reason on the receipts.
  • When your treatment plan is confirmed, ask your healthcare team what is covered. If you have Alberta Health Care, most of your treatments will be covered, but there could be extra costs. Call your insurance provider so you know what they cover and ask about the cost of extra coverage if you need it. Sometimes when you add medical coverage there is a waiting period before the coverage starts. Extra coverage may be helpful to cover the cost of things such as prosthesis, medicines, transportation, and physiotherapy.
  • It helps to make a list of other costs such as childcare, lodging, and travel. Your healthcare team may be able to suggest services that cost less.
  • Ask your healthcare team about government financial support, including tax credits and caregiver employment insurance.

Fertility and birth control

Cancer treatment can affect your ability to have children (fertility). It’s important to talk about birth control and fertility options with your healthcare team before treatment starts.

Some things to think about:

  • If you think you may be pregnant, tell your healthcare team right away. Your surgery and treatment plans may need to be changed, depending on the type of cancer you have and the stage of your pregnancy.
  • Now is not a good time to get pregnant, so using birth control is important. The birth control pill is not recommended for breast cancer patients, so it’s important that you ask your healthcare team about other types of birth control you can use.
  • If you want to preserve your fertility to have children in the future, you may need a referral to a fertility specialist. Talk to your healthcare team. A referral should be made early so nothing gets in the way of your breast cancer treatment.​​​​​​​

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