Onksopsiholog Oksana Bulavskaya – about how a woman does not miss the disease and how to cope with it.
“By the nature of my work, I often have to work with women who have experienced a severe diagnosis of breast cancer.” All of them, like us, lived a familiar life, and as a rule, none of them thought that they could be affected by this trouble. Either thought about it, but hoped that it would carry it.
How not to miss
A photo: Getty Images
According to the stories of patients, most often unpleasant sensations were not obvious. They were rather the same as those that appear in healthy women during menstruation or shortly before it – swelling, pain, heaviness in the chest and others. If, by the time of the onset of the disease, they already became mothers, their sensations were similar to natural ones that arise during pregnancy and feeding. Moreover, almost none of them did not attach any importance to these signals of the body, did not pass the examination either by the doctor or independently.
By the way, I advise to conduct regular self-examination every month at the beginning of the cycle. Ideally, this should be done on the same day, for example, on the seventh day after the onset of menstruation, and for women in menopause – on the same day of the calendar month. Most of the sick women who came to me for psychological help did not undergo an annual mammogram after 40 years, which is very sad. For example, in many countries from a certain age, women are screened by a mammologist and do mammography for free. In this case, the specialist goes to their place of residence, if the hospital is quite far from the village and it is difficult for a woman to get there.
So far in our country, an annual survey is the care of the woman herself. And, unfortunately, most often the events develop according to the following plot: she quite accidentally finds a ball in her chest or sees in the mirror external changes, often completely painless (nipple westing on the one hand, a small area resembling the orange peel structure, a persistent change color of one area of the breast). And what do you think she does? Goes to the doctor? No! She decides that, probably, it is necessary to wait, and it will pass by itself … But a month passes, another, sometimes more, and new symptoms appear, the ball or deformed area increases, and now pain appears. This is where the moment comes when the doctor’s appointment becomes her main concern, fear and hope.
What to do and where to run, if something is wrong already
First of all, find a good mammologist. A doctor who will help at all stages of overcoming the disease. You must find a doctor who will be trusted and ready to fulfill all his appointments. One who, without fear and embarrassment, can ask any questions, no matter how trivial or complex they may seem.
In such a situation, the doctor is usually already at the first reception, even before the results of studies confirming the diagnosis, can with a high probability of assuming oncology and is often completely right. Now our woman needs to have a mammogram, ultrasound, a puncture and a biopsy. All these studies were necessary to her before, even at the first symptoms, which she decided not to pay attention to. However, now doctors need to hurry to not allow the disease to progress dangerously.
Time at the very beginning of the disease, when treatment would not be difficult, would be much shorter, had greater variability and a practically guaranteed positive result, unfortunately, was lost. Nevertheless, believe me, doctors use all the possibilities of modern medicine to defeat the disease.
A photo: Getty Images
When the clinic is found, the doctor is selected (now it can be done not only on a paid basis, but also on CHI), you have to become obedient, attentive and … very uncomfortable patient. A patient who comes to the reception prepared, knowing not only everything about his diagnosis, but also about the methods of treatment, drugs, their actions, even in general terms. This can all be learned from the treating doctor at the first visits, then to find all the missing information in other accessible and reliable sources.
Before the reception carefully memorize, and better write down your questions about the effects of medications, side effects when they are taken or symptoms that have appeared or are causing discomfort. Often a doctor needs to hear one such complaint in order to change the treatment tactics. It happens and vice versa, the symptom will be a sign that the therapy is working and everything is going well. Unfortunately, it happens that the sensations are so scary or the woman finds them so “uncomfortable and shameful” that she does not dare to say about them. And the doctor often has a very specific medicine, which, perhaps, will not cure immediately, but can greatly improve the quality of life. After all, your life is not divided into “before” and “after” the disease. It is here and now and, if possible, should have the highest possible quality, despite the disease and treatment.
And to help you, the doctor just needs to know what happens during the treatment. This is not what happens at all with such treatment, but it is with you. At the same time, you must remember that the doctor is your assistant and guide, he has knowledge and skills that you do not have. He is ready to share them, but you are being treated! It is from your active position will depend a lot. You should monitor your changes in the body, the frequency of receptions, the implementation of recommendations and examinations, pay attention to the side effects of drugs, if they appear, and in general on all that happens to you during treatment. Your recovery directly depends on it.
Where the legs grow and why in such a situation a psychologist
– So, the diagnosis is made. Usually at this moment a woman comes to see me, – continues the story of the psychotherapist, oncopsychologist of the Center for Support for Breast Cancer “Together” Oksana Bulavskaya. “As a rule, I see a girl who is confused, crying, or not able to cry any more, looking for my confirmation and conviction that everything will be fine and she will certainly recover. After all, recently she had a completely different life and plans, in which the multi-month treatment, operation and diagnosis that divided her life into “before” and “after” did not fit in at all. And even more so a very real opportunity to die, if not to take very decisive action in the near future.
From the experience of working with such patients, I noticed several common features that are common to most breast cancer patients. A nice, completely successful woman comes to me, as a rule, in the last couple of years she has faced some kind of heavy stress (loss of work, a close person, separation from the family, forced relocation …). Such a woman, choosing her own priority in life – work, marriage, perhaps children, as it puts everything on this horse. And when suddenly the years of outwardly calm life pass and something happens: the husband dies or divorces her, the children grow up and “fly out of the nest”, she loses her job or business … The main area of her life, to which the main stake was made, is lost. In her understanding, there is no way out, and there’s no one else to share.
It is from choosing a single priority that her path to illness starts, making her position in life very unstable. What a woman chooses, outshines for her all the other values in life, including herself. It sets priorities in such a way that in its own hierarchy of values, it paradoxically turns out to be far from being the first place, and the chosen “main” is so huge for it that everything else makes little or unnecessary options in her life.
Ideally, you should run to the doctor at once, with the appearance of minimal symptoms of changes in the mammary gland
A photo: Getty Images
Her experiences occur within themselves, clearly reluctant to load others with their problems. But many times the situation mentioned to itself seems completely unresolved. Man as it winds up and increases the severity of the situation. Forgive, but this is a psychological law. Now the throngs that have fallen are becoming too heavy. Under its weight, it changes itself, becoming, as it were, the bearer of this problem. Of course, not all the sick women correspond to these characteristics, it also happens in another way. I’m talking about the most common scenario of life, before the onset of the disease. But, one way or another, the situation has already occurred, the woman is sick. As they say, the trouble has come – open the gate.
Look for an interlocutor
– But choose it very carefully, as if knowing that this person will not start moaning and lamenting: “How can we be without you, but who do you leave us with …” and tell all sorts of horror stories that have happened to her acquaintances and strangers who come to you have no relation. Breast cancer is treated and treated successfully! Another thing is that the treatment process is not fast and not very easy. And start it as soon as possible. Keep in mind that there will also be people who are so dumbfounded by the diagnosis of cancer that they will depart and will not be able to help you and be close to you.
Try not to be offended and not to hold evil on them. They are just very frightened, and in such a state it is useless to count on them. Often a good interlocutor is a person who himself has passed through a similar test or survived it with his relatives.
Your relatives, of course, should also be included in the list of proxies. But remember, they will experience all the same psychological difficulties as you. There are studies that prove that relatives and relatives living with oncologists go through the same stages of experiencing stress as patients. Be ready to provide moral support and learn to ask for concrete help from them. After all, they, like you, for the first time faced this situation and have no idea what to say and do, how to effectively help the native person.
Learn how to clearly and clearly express your requests
“I would like, that you would take me to the doctor on the next Friday, vacuumed in the apartment, sat with me in a close embrace and paused, would say that you will love me without a breast …” Believe me, such concreteness of requests will greatly facilitate your life and your loved one. And it will also give you an understandable and simple way to get close to you and successfully pass this difficult stage in your life. Do not be afraid to discuss with a loved one those changes that will soon happen to you (mastectomy, scars, hair loss during chemotherapy …). You can clearly tell about your fears and about what helps you to cope with them. Let a close person share his thoughts on this matter, most likely, it will help both of you.
When we learn about such a difficult diagnosis, we begin to search the Internet for everything that concerns the outcome of the disease. For example, mortality statistics. And most often unreliable. You should clearly understand that this is statistics in general – like the average temperature in the hospital. It takes into account all women with breast cancer, including very deep old women who could not afford treatment; women who did not recognize the disease until the very last stage; women who for some reason refused to fight; deceived by the grief-healers and swindlers-so many losses among those who believed in them, so many unsaved lives, who simply had to go to the doctor and trust him!
Also, women simply are far from hospitals and for some reason do not consider it necessary to throw all their strengths and opportunities into the fight against the disease. In the end, these are women who do not read similar articles and do not have a clear algorithm of action. And all these women are not you! You are the one who knows how to properly build the nearest goals, if fate has prepared to face you with such a disease. I would even say this: fate has given you a sign in the form of a disease, how important it is to hear yourself and your body, how important it is to be in your place in the first place and take it not at all as selfishness, but as a healthy love for yourself. After all, only truly loving ourselves, we will be able to share our love with others, close and distant, giving support to them, and to rely on ourselves.
From the Editorial Board
A photo: Getty Images
Many stars at the peak of their careers experienced a mastectomy. Now they continue to live happily and continue to act in films. Let us recall the story of one of the most beautiful women in the world – Angelina Jolie. In May 2013 in The New York Times left the column of the actress, in which the actress admitted that she had completed a three-month course of medical procedures related to mastectomy. Sex symbol, one of the most coveted women on the planet, reported that she voluntarily removed both breasts. She decided on such drastic measures for good reason. The actress underwent a series of examinations and found out she is a carrier of the BRCA1 gene. With such a mutation in the genome, the probability of occurrence of breast cancer is 87%, and ovarian cancer – 50%.
Recall that the wife of Brad Pitt seriously began to engage in his health, when after seven years of fighting cancer her mother, actress and producer Marcelin Bertrand, died. At mum Angelina in different years malignant tumors of mammary glands and ovaries have been diagnosed. Alas, the disease was discovered too late, and the doctors could not do anything.
The conclusion from all this is one: listen to yourself and once a year you have a checkup from a mammologist. And if the trouble has come, look for a competent doctor and a psychologist, and do not bury yourself in your experiences and problems.