For the upcoming Breast Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Camille Wortman offers tips for breast cancer survivors on how to grieve losses they might have sustained before, during, and afterwards.
Maintain close connections with friends and family members. Breast cancer survivors often isolate themselves, thus cutting themselves off from interactions that can be healing.
Consider activism: Becoming an advocate for causes that will help future survivors of breast cancer can be very empowering.
Seek out opportunities to interact with other breast cancer survivors either one-on-one or in a group setting. They can help you to understand that your feelings are normal and that you are not alone.
Express your feeling through artistic expression or keeping a journal.
Be Proactive and exercise. A diagnosis of cancer is often accompanied by feelings of helplessness. Women may feel that they have lost control of their bodies and exercise can help to regain feelings of competence and efficacy.
Don't compare yourself to others, especially super achievers like Lance Armstrong.
Understand the impact of Grief Triggers. Just as things seem to be going well, you may encounter a reminder of your situation that evokes painful emotions. Recognizing that such reactions are normal can ameliorate the distress they cause.
Plan ahead for getting through difficult occasions such as the anniversary of receiving the diagnosis.
Dr. Wortman is a Professor of Psychology at SUNY. For the past 15 years, she has served as the director of the Social and Health Psychology Graduate Training Program at Stony Brook. Her research focuses on bereavement, with an emphasis on how people react to the sudden, traumatic death of a loved one. She received the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution in Psychology from the American Psychological Association for this work. Her work has been featured in such national TV and print outlets.