When a woman first learns that she has breast cancer, then she must decide on a doctor and a course of treatment. Once the treatment has been completed, then that same woman needs to think about her possible plans for long-term care. Every woman will have a different vision for her preferred long-term care. The satisfactory continuation of care, beyond the immediate post-surgery period, requires a combination of privacy for the patient and support from the patient's family.
The American Cancer Society recommends that each breast cancer patient be provided with time for doing whatever they want. Many patients use such time for participation in activities that can relieve the patient's tension. The patient might have a lot of pent-up feelings, feelings that must temporarily remain "bottled-up" in the mind of the patient.
With proper long-term care, each breast cancer patient should eventually feel comfortable discussing their concerns with friends, family and spiritual advisors. Such discussions can offer a good deal of strength and support. For added strength and support, a patient's long-term health care should include participation in a support group.
As each breast cancer patient goes through the ups and downs of long-term care, they often wonder about their self-image, about how their friends and family will now look at them. The patient can acquire added strength and confidence by concentrating on the development of a renewed self-image. The patient might want to examine what part of her life she considers most important. She might also look more closely at what helps her to feel more feminine.
As a breast cancer patient looks at what makes her feel more feminine, she might decide to seek breast reconstruction. Such reconstruction can play an important role in the patient's long-term health care. By the same token, the patient should know that both types of breast reconstruction-the tissue expander and the flap reconstruction-bring an added risk of infection, plus other complications.
A breast cancer patient might not feel ready to deal with more complications. If the patient has had chemotherapy, then her long-term care has already included adaptation to hair changes. Hair loss is frequently experienced by the patient undergoing chemotherapy. Usually such patients prefer to get a short haircut and to have a wig made. Some also choose to wear a favorite hat or scarf. They learn too that an eyebrow brush is an excellent way to replace lost eyebrow hair.
Proper long-term care for the breast cancer survivor should include follow-up care. The patient must plan to visit her doctor on a regular basis. A breast cancer survivor can not neglect the need to watch for a recurrence of the breast cancer. Such watchfulness should include a regular mammogram and the performance of breast self-exams.
The breast cancer survivor should recognize that successful treatment is only the first step along the path to a healthy future. Further steps along that path can be placed more firmly, if the breast cancer survivor appreciates the value of good long-term care.