Pako-W-Breast

Six ways to keep your mental health in check during treatment

Pako W. was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 48th birthday. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Phoenix, she completed a double mastectomy, immunotherapy and then the newly released Kadcyla® treatment (an immunotherapy/chemotherapy combination). Pako is a personal trainer and believes in good nutrition and exercise as part of a treatment plan. 

  1. Take solo time for yourself. In my experience, 20 to 30 minutes of quiet time each day was very helpful. Whether it’s meditating, focused breathing, relaxing or reading, you need space for no outside thoughts—no noise, no worries, just quiet.
  2. Pamper yourself guilt-free. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, carve out time to rejuvenate yourself mentally and physically. Treatment days and doctor appointments can feel long and tiring. Schedule regular time for a massage, bubble bath, haircut or aromatherapy.
  3. Get moving! Whether you prefer a group class (yes, even available via Zoom or in your home), a workout buddy or great playlist as your partner, there are so many options to stay active during treatment. I kept working out with some kind of exercise or movement for normalcy and routine. Remember: It’s okay to modify. You may not be able to move like you used to, but everything can be modified. It’s possible to exercise on the floor, in a recliner or seated in a doctor’s office. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
  4. Take a rest day. If there’s a day or two that you’re exhausted and sick from treatments, take that day off to rest from any movements or meetings.
  5. Make a plan or routine throughout the week and print it out. Fill it with appointments, workout plans, meals, etc. Place it on your fridge door, so you see it every morning.
  6. Communicate with your partner. Your partner or loved one may not be going through a diagnosis or treatment, but he or she is often right by your side. Whether it’s asking for help with meal preparation or trying to navigate chemotherapy side effects, be honest in letting them know what you need.