Personal care treatments

Five Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Breast Cancer Treatments

A cancer diagnosis changes everything. Cancer itself is a scary word. Finding out you have cancer is a whole new level of dread. In an instant, everything changes. In a fraction of a second, there is a before cancer and an after cancer. You can recognize the line drawn in the sand. For good reason, everything is focused on your physical health. What can I do to get better? How can I beat this? But just as, and sometimes more important, is your total well-being. Your mental, emotional and physical self needs love and tender care more than ever.

In the new normal after diagnosis, the sudden onslaught of doctor visits can be anxiety-provoking. Real questions and phone calls from concerned family and friends can be overwhelming. The “what ifs” and treatment decisions can be paralyzing. The after effects of surgery and treatment make you feel like a different person. Being an advocate in the community is hugely rewarding, but can also be exhausting. Let’s not even get into survivor’s guilt.

As I considered my next steps, I realized that self-care had to be at the top of my list. I needed an arsenal of tools ready for the days when cancer knocked me down. I needed to know how to get my rhythm back after a tough doctor’s appointment. I wanted to know how I could be gentle with myself when my world felt like it was closing in around me, and I was looking for ways to ground myself in the beauty that remained in me and in my life.

1. Logging

One habit I picked up early in my diagnosis was journaling. I started it to document test results, questions I had for my care team, and things I wanted to remember, but it quickly became my outlet. I kept a diary of the things I felt. I poured out my hopes and my fears. It also helped me examine why I felt certain things and what I could do about it. I could reflect on my thoughts and felt lighter when I left everything on the page. I could be brutally honest even when I thought I couldn’t be honest with those around me.

2. Meditation

I never thought I could meditate. I still do not know. When my anxiety increased, I learned that even though I couldn’t maintain perfect attention, meditation helped me calm my thoughts. I turned to YouTube University and fell in love with guided meditation. It helped me follow a set path to meditation rather than trying to figure it out on my own. I could choose the duration and types of meditation I engaged in based on my needs for the day. I also really like sleep meditations. Sleep meditations allow me to sleep peacefully, knowing that my subconscious has peaceful thoughts.

3. Baths

The baths have always been my place of comfort. Whenever I need to think, am not feeling my best, or want to be comfy and cozy, I like to soak in the tub. I don’t always add candles, bubbles, or fancy bath salts, but nothing is as enjoyable as immersing yourself in a warm bath and letting my feelings go. As a natural girl, I don’t mind getting my hair wet, so I can sink until my eyes, nose, and mouth pop out. This is the moment I chose to be alone with myself. It’s my downtime when I don’t have other priorities. On the days when I feel the ugliest, I muster up the strength to get into the tub. Besides clearing my mind and spirit, hot baths also relax stiff joints and tense muscles. During cancer treatment, it’s important that you find the energy to do the things that make you feel good.

Five Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Breast Cancer Treatments

4. Statements

Another new habit I picked up during treatments was affirmations. Words mean things. Words heal and words hurt. I needed to be more aware of my self-talk during treatment. It was easy to say that my body was letting me down or that I felt like shit. While in some cases these things may be true, there is a better, more assertive way to talk about me and myself. Although saying affirmations out loud is always uncomfortable for me, I write my own. I don’t necessarily say them, but I write them and read them.

Thanks to a person near and dear to my heart, I try to talk about life and gratitude about myself. I rephrase my remarks to be more positive. I am first honest about my thoughts, but then I consciously reframe my words. I may feel like shit today, but I’m also thankful that the drugs are working to kill the cancer cells in my body.

5.Apps

I’m a total tech geek. I love the newest gadget, and if there’s an app for it, I’ve got it. To help me keep a good balance and stay on track with my self-care, I found apps to support my journey. I have affirmation apps that spin affirmations on a widget on my phone screen, and I am reminded and given space to write my affirmation once a day. I have a guided journal that provides different prompts to ensure that I regularly journal my feelings. I have mood and symptom trackers. I have meditation playlists that I can queue anytime. These apps help me feel like I have a little more control over everything that happens to me.

Whatever speaks to your heart, do it. Your self-care doesn’t have to be like mine, but please find at least a few things that can help soothe your soul, lift your spirits when you’re feeling down, and lift you up when reality feels too real.


For Within Us (FTBOU) is an organization born three years ago with one mission: to create a safe space for women of color diagnosed with breast cancer and to reinforce that they are not alone. Understanding the importance of representation, FTBOU has successfully expanded its diverse Ambassadors from the two Founders to thirty Baddie Ambassadors over the past two years. Tapping into a variety of women from all walks of life, with different diagnoses and treatment pathways, allows the organization to broaden its voice and the women who can benefit.

Additionally, all Ambassadors have a personal commitment and bias to action in advocacy and keeping abreast of the latest developments in cancer treatment, all to give back when helping new patients. suffering from breast cancer. Over the past two years, FTBOU has also hosted two successful retreats that have brought together survivors from across the country to inspire and educate them as they chart their own personal journeys.

FTBOU is the first organization to lead with an inclusive spirit for all women of color, of all ages, ethnicities and sizes. They are proud to have African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian women in their organization. They hope the list will continue to grow as they continue their mission to ensure that our current and future cancer warriors see a familiar face in the souls who make FTBOU.

Cynthia Johnson, Houston-based For the Breast of Us Bajan Baddie Ambassador

Five Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Breast Cancer Treatments

Cynthia is CEO and Creative Director of Our Like Vibes. Cynthia has crafted the design aesthetic for Our Like Vibes and other brands like Bajans & Friends for Health & Education and Caribbean Heritage Magazine. Cynthia was diagnosed with stage II invasive ductal carcinoma in 2018, a year before she was old enough to start regular mammograms. After a lumpectomy, chemo and radiotherapy, Cynthia is currently undergoing hormone therapy. To cope, Cynthia shared her journey frankly on social networks. This led her to educate and advocate for breast cancer and health disparities.

Cynthia lives by the mantra, “If you have to get through this, SHINE it.” Educator day and night, Cynthia shines by volunteering as Baddie Ambassador with For The Breast of Us, Advocacy Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Center for Public Policy, Certified Global Educator with the Know Your Lemons Foundation, a member of Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc. and a proud Bajan Baddie!

She thinks one of the biggest issues is that women of color are being misdiagnosed or having their diagnosis delayed. This may be due to ignorance or misunderstanding of the culture the patient represents.

Johnson says, “We need to teach doctors to look beyond the fact that a woman speaks differently or that as black women we are fatter women most of the time or we are overweight, and see what are our concerns, because they cannot even understand this reality. You’re not going to tell Caribbean women to stop eating carbs – that’s just not real! »

Johnson makes it clear that understanding cultural nuances is key to making the best choices for people affected by breast cancer. FTBOU helps medical industry players in this way and advocates for the right people to be present when important decisions are made.


Special Note: For within us will welcome its first sneaker ball, “We are organizing this gala,” during breast cancer awareness month on October 15, 2022, in Houston, Texas. The Gala provides a platform where breast cancer survivors and thrivings are nationally celebrated, as well as those who advocate and educate our community and those who are no longer with us. This gala is another creative idea from the organization to mobilize support in the fight against breast cancer, by pairing their favorite clothes – sneakers – with their favorite elegance.