Initial treatment of your early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer was a success and your doctor has prescribed anti-estrogen therapy for the next 5 years, maybe longer. Now what? You’ll start going through the process of adjusting to life as a breast cancer survivor, which can be emotional and may include late-onset effects of treatment. Knowing your treatment plan, the “road map” and things to expect may help you make the transition.
Short-term and Long-term Effects of ER+ Breast Cancer Treatment
Recovery from initial treatment can take time. The side effects from chemotherapy (if you were treated with chemotherapy) and ongoing challenges you may experience due to your anti-estrogen therapy, such as fatigue, low energy, and pain and stiffness in the joints can be frustrating. Meeting regularly with your doctor gives you the opportunity to address any physical changes you may notice and ask questions about the side effects associated with your treatments.
Follow-up care is an essential part of life as a survivor. You should regularly have scheduled appointments with your doctor to check for any evidence that the cancer has returned, and to discuss your ongoing treatments and any side effects you might be having.
Understand Your Personal Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence
For individuals diagnosed and treated for early-stage estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer, a non-invasive test on your original tumor sample can help your doctor understand your personal risk of breast cancer recurrence. The Breast Cancer Index is a test that examines specific molecular characteristics of your original tumor sample to gather information that will also help your doctor understand your risk of recurrence after 5 years and the likelihood that you will benefit from an additional 5 years of anti-estrogen therapy after completing your initial 5 years of therapy.
Adopt a Diet and Exercise Plan
Research shows that ER+ breast cancer survivors may live longer by exercising. The American Cancer Society recommends 30 minutes or more of exercise, such as walking or golfing, at least five days a week. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine and about developing a survivorship care plan. Your cancer care team will help work with you to decide which exercises are best for you and will work with you to increase exercise intensity if desired.
Join a Support Group
Unfortunately, part of the process of cancer treatment may involve a change in some relationships. The emotional stress between friendships can cause some people to drift away while others remain close by. It may be difficult for those around you to understand the feelings that remain after completing treatment, such as the anxiety associated with follow-up care, medical tests, and not knowing if cancer will return.
Support groups offer a space where you can express your feelings around women who have been through a similar experience and who may even be feeling the same way. It’s important to feel supported even after your treatment has ended. Sharing the same experience and feelings with others can help you feel validated, supported, and even empowering.
Article Submitted By Community Writer