Some people think that having a strong, positive attitude helps you cope better with your illness and treatment. No one can be positive all the time and it is normal to have low times when you may feel angry, frightened, anxious or depressed.
Sometimes you have put all your time and energy into coping with the disease and its treatment. As the treatment ends and hospital appointments become less frequent it is not unusual to feel lost and on your own. You may find it helpful to talk to your Nurse Specialist or to others who have been through similar treatments. Your Nurse Specialist can give you information about local support groups.
If you have problems after your treatment, or are worried that your symptoms may have come back it is important that you do not wait for your next hospital appointment but that you contact your GP, Nurse Specialist or one of the
Consultants involved in your care.
What about family and friends?
Friends and family may feel that, now your treatment is finished, you no longer need as much care and support as you did during your treatment.
Partners and children may seem to be treating you differently or you may feel that you are not as close as you were. Those close to you may have found it difficult to cope with everything that you have been through and they may also need time to recover.
What about sexual activity and fertility?
Although chemotherapy can make some people infertile, either temporarily or permanently, this is not always the case and you should continue to use non-hormonal contraceptives unless you or your partner are hoping to become pregnant.
Some of the drugs used to treat breast cancer can harm the unborn child so if you are hoping to become pregnant please tell your consultant. You may be advised to wait at least six months from the end of your treatment before trying to become pregnant to reduce these risks. Women whose periods are late and who think that they may be pregnant should tell their doctor straight away.
If you are tired or worried after your treatment sex may be the last thing on your mind but you can continue your sex life as you wish during your breast cancer treatment. It is not unusual, however, for some people to have difficulties making love during or after their treatment.
Sometimes people can worry that they are no longer attractive, particularly if surgery or chemotherapy has changed their physical appearance. They may worry because their partner hesitates to touch them, but your partner may be afraid of hurting you. Your partner may not be sure how they should behave towards you now, or know what to say.
You or your partner may worry that cancer can be passed on or made worse by making love. This is not true. Some women who have chemotherapy find that the drugs can cause vaginal dryness. This can make lovemaking difficult or uncomfortable for both partners. Simple gels and creams to ease this discomfort can be bought over the counter from chemists and supermarkets, or your GP can prescribe special creams that should help.
Remember these problems are not unusual and most will get better as time passes. You will find it helps to talk through your worries and fears openly and honestly if you feel things are awkward between you. Even if you do not feel like having sex, stroking, touching, kissing and cuddling can show how much you care for each other.