- Question from Cold TX: How does a young mother who has three children and is recovering from breast cancer alleviate stress and try and build up a healthier immune system?
- Answers - Mitch Golant Mothers in the situation you are describing often say what is heart-wrenching for them with the diagnosis of breast cancer is that they may not live to see their children graduate or see the life cycle events happen, and that is very stressful for many women. They are also faced with doing a second shift - working during the day and at night caring for their children, and also dealing with breast cancer. So it seems important to begin to think about how to ask for help or gain some support by joining a support group, where you can be with others who are going through what you are going through. There is no simple answer. Of course, my heart goes out to you, given all of the pressures that you will be dealing with at one time.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. For many women, it is uncomfortable to ask for help. This may be something that you have to learn how to do. It's also really hard to accept help after you have asked for it, because when other people help you, the task may be done in a way that is different than you would have done it. Sometimes you also have to let go of things and jobs that are not so important to you. But it is also important to hold onto those things that you really care about. It really happens that women feel able to give up most of their responsibilities, but one thing that is true is that if you give up things that are important to you, then you may end up feeling less significant as a person.
- Mitch Golant I think we can elaborate a little more. How do you decide what is important? Often with the diagnosis of breast cancer, the notion of 'supermom' has taken on a super-large proportion.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. The job description more than doubles.
- Mitch Golant Exactly, and what that brings with it is this incredible tension to decide what is most important to you, given that there is an inclination to do it all. The value of support is that you are not alone in this. What matters is that our children are our life's project and we want to be there, and yet we are also needing self-care. Even the caregiver of our children needs self-care.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Stress and Your Immune System featured Mitch Golant, Ph.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions on how stress affects your treatment, and what you can do to boost your immune system.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2001.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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