Living and everyday life with breast cancer: tips from the nursing specialist

A cancer diagnosis is a shock to everyone at first. The first thing most people want to know is: What does cancer mean for my life?? How to get well again? And what therapy is recommended for me?


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Living and everyday life with breast cancer: tips from the nursing specialist

Bettina Aldenkirchs

Breast Care Nurse in the Breast Center at Helios Klinikum Krefeld

As a breast care nurse, Aldenkirchs knows the challenges of living with breast cancer.

With breast cancer, many women additionally face very practical questions about living with anxiety and everyday life with the disease: How do I deal with hair loss? How does the diagnosis affect my family planning? And how do you get back to work later?? Bettina Aldenkirchs, Breast Care Nurse from the Breast Center at Helios Klinikum Krefeld, answers these and other questions about living with breast cancer.

Please note:

While men can also get a tumor in their breast, it is much less common. That is why the following information on breast cancer is primarily aimed at women. Since breast cancer can progress very differently, all measures should always be decided individually with the treating physicians.

Sport and a healthy diet: How you can contribute to prevention and recovery

A Normal body weight and a healthy diet Contribute not only to the prevention of cancer. They also improve the Chances of cure of patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Raise against it Obesity and overweight the risk for a cancer disease in the chest. At the same time, being overweight worsens the prognosis for recovery. Fortunately, there are two effective ways to bring your weight back to a normal level: healthy diet and exercise.

Eating healthy: Lots of plants, little meat

As a general rule, we recommend Balanced, Mediterranean diet. Here the focus is on plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Meat and sausages, on the other hand, should be reduced, as should alcohol, sugar and white flour.

Do sports: Endurance and relaxation

Also physical activity and an active life contribute to the Prevention of cancer with and support the recovery process. We recommend for example Equipment training and endurance training, for example in the form of sports like Walking, swimming and cycling. Relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation and chi gong can also help the body fight cancer.

Generally, alternative and complementary methods in combination with sports, nutrition or Mind-body medicine complement the conventional cancer treatment. However, they cannot replace them.

Hair loss, skin problems, exhaustion: how to combat side effects

Whoever gets sick with cancer has to deal with various problems during the therapy Accompanying symptoms to fight. Besides Pain and severe exhaustion some of these side effects are also visible externally, for example Hair loss and Skin problems. For young women in particular, these experiences can be very stressful.

Preventing hair loss after chemotherapy

Living and everyday life with breast cancer: tips from the nursing specialist

The possible Loss of main hair makes almost every woman. In recent years, however, methods have been developed that can help in this regard, Hair loss due to chemotherapy to be avoided or at least significantly reduced.

"One such method is the so-called Scalp cooling ("Scalp Cooling"). This involves lowering the temperature of the scalp with the help of a so-called "cool cap"," explains Bettina Aldenkirchs, Breast Care Nurse from the Breast Center at Helios Klinikum Krefeld. Cooling reduces blood flow to the hair follicles, which are therefore less affected by chemotherapy. hair loss can be reduced or even prevented altogether.

However, such methods do not always help. "Affected persons should therefore mentally prepare themselves for the possibility of a Hair loss set. The good news is that in most cases, hair grows back about four to six weeks after therapy is over," explains Bettina Aldenkirch.

For those who want to subtly conceal the bald head until then, there are several possibilities. Clarity can be a consultation in a Wig studio or hair salon of confidence already provide in advance. Meanwhile, well-fitting and customized wigs that look like real hair. Also Head coverings like bandanas many female patients find it a good solution to feel more comfortable in public.

Living and everyday life with breast cancer: tips from the nursing specialist


Sufferers should therefore mentally prepare for the possibility of hair loss. The good news: In most cases, hair grows back about four to six weeks after a therapy is over.

Bettina Aldenkirchs | Breast Care Nurse from the Breast Center at Helios Klinikum Krefeld

Relieving pain after an operation

The most important information beforehand: no patient has to be under Pain suffer. With interventions of all kinds, strong physical complaints are effectively treated after a Medication plan treated, so also with the tumor operation.

Other ailments that arise during treatment can also be targeted and effectively treated. For this purpose, the attending physician often works with a so-called "pain team" together, which is specialized in the treatment of pain.

Get skin problems under control

During a treatment, the skin can be attacked, for example at Irradiation. Since skin problems are often highly visible, many sufferers experience them as similarly distressing as Hair loss.

While heavy Skin damage thanks to modern radiation equipment today largely avoided become. However, radiation from cancer can also affect the skin, causing redness, swelling, and other irritations that remain visible for a long time.

"With the right care, such skin problems can often be alleviated. The clinic staff will therefore provide information before an operation radiation therapy how the skin should be cared for during and after the treatment – for example, with water and a moisturizing lotion," explains Bettina Aldenkirch.

Living and everyday life with breast cancer: tips from the nursing specialist


With the right care, such skin problems can often be alleviated. The clinic staff will therefore provide detailed information before radiation therapy on how the skin should be cared for during and after the treatment – for example, with water and a moisturizing lotion.

Bettina Aldenkirchs | Breast Care Nurse from the Breast Center at Helios Klinikum Krefeld

accept fatigue

A cancer therapy be exhausting and cause severe skin problems for many patients, both male and female Exhaustion out. If fatigue cannot be controlled by physical rest and long sleep, this is referred to as "fatigue". Acute fatigue during Cancer treatment can develop into chronic fatigue if severe exhaustion persists for months or even years after treatment.

Patients should try to accept this condition in their lives temporarily and to avoid their set up everyday life accordingly. This means taking all kinds of activities slowly, setting priorities and planning daily routines according to one’s physical abilities.

A good night’s sleep is also important. Possible sleep problems can be countered with various techniques. A comfortable, undisturbed sleeping environment can also contribute to a healthy sleep as well as nightly Sleep rituals – such as meditation, music or relaxation techniques. "Sporting activities also promote falling asleep, if they are not practiced too close to bedtime. Stress, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs," explains Bettina Aldenkirchs.

Sexuality, family planning, menopause: What you should bear in mind with breast cancer

Cancer treatment can change the body. These changes and the impaired health can affect self-confidence, self-esteem and thus greatly affect a person’s quality of life.

Sexuality and contraception in breast cancer

After a cancer diagnosis, women who are using per birth control pill contraception, switching to alternative contraceptives. Hormonal contraceptive methods such as the pill, hormone patch, or hormone coil can Growth of the tumor stimulate.

One normal sexuality is otherwise usually nothing to stand in the way of. physical changes, for example as a result of Operation or one Chemotherapy, can, however, create a psychological barrier to. Many women first have to adjust and develop a new feeling for their body. Some are initially ashamed in front of their partner. This in turn can have a negative effect on intimate life.

Who in his Partnership If a woman feels shame, she should talk about the subject as openly as possible. This is easier if the partner is involved from the beginning in the disease situation included. Sometimes, however, both partners are so distressed by the situation that the way to Couples counseling can help.

Family planning and fertility

Living and everyday life with breast cancer: tips from the nursing specialist

In the run-up to cancer therapy, the Family planning should be clarified. Those who wish to have a child, must by no means give up the dream of becoming a mother. When it comes to offspring, there are various options available today to help fertility, for example, in the case of a Chemotherapy to preserve. One of these fertility-protective measures is the so-called Cryopreservation. This involves freezing eggs or ovarian tissue in liquid nitrogen.

The attending gynecologist works with FertiPROTEKT The Pain Team is an alliance of clinics and practices in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that aims to help mothers fulfill their wish to have (another) child even after they have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

complaints due to hormone withdrawal

In the case of a disease with hormone-dependent breast cancer special, hormone-inhibiting drugs be administered. Due to hormone withdrawal, menopausal symptoms can occur such as Hot flashes, joint pain as well as Unrest, Fahrigkeit and depressive moods. Also, the bone density can decrease (osteoporosis).

Certain herbal medicines or vitamin E can help alleviate such symptoms, as well as Acupuncture and physical activity. If osteoporosis is diagnosed, bisphosphonates can help. These are drugs designed to inhibit excessive bone resorption. important: The Taking from drugs or additional vitamins should previously always coordinated with the attending physician are.

The Fighting cancer takes place not only in the body, but also in the mind. The psychological stress is often equally high for patients and their relatives. Those affected therefore have numerous contact points and offers at their disposal where they can obtain advice.

Information about the cancer

After a Breast cancer diagnosis general practitioners answer the first general questions about the disease and the therapy. After diagnosis, patients should refer to a certified Breast Center contact. Here, specialized gynecologists (senologists) and specialized nurses (breast care nurses) provide information about the various possibilities and procedures of treatment.

Written information material in a comprehensible form is offered by the so-called "blue guide". They can be ordered or downloaded free of charge from the German Cancer Aid website. Further information can also be found on the Internet, for example on the pages of the German Cancer Society, the German Cancer Research Center or the Working Group for Gynecological Oncology.

If questions remain unanswered, doctors and specialists from various fields are available to help during the course of treatment. They specialize in the treatment of breast cancer and know the answers to all the important questions on the subject of breast cancer.

Psychological support

The psychological Support measures in breast cancer are also varied. So you can Psychooncologists help cancer patients cope with their fear and the psychological challenges of the disease.

The Women’s self-help cancer also offers comprehensive support and counseling throughout the course of the disease. Here also psychological and socio-legal questions answered. And counseling services, where sufferers and relatives can find comfort, can also be accessed by phone and now mostly even digitally.

For many cancer patients, it is especially helpful to talk to people in the same situation. Because as much as relatives and friends are supportive: Other affected persons can not only pass on tips and their own experiences. They can also better understand their own situation. Such Self-help groups are also increasingly exchanging information in social networks on the Internet. But you can also find them in many cities quite classically on the spot.

After recovery, many patients would like to receive fast back into their profession to return to the clinic to start their new life a "Piece of normality" regain.

The social services in certified breast centers therefore also advises about possibilities of reintegration into the professional life. How exactly the resumption of professional activity can look like is determined individually depending on the age and the severity of the disease.

counseling for patients with no chance of recovery

While a tumor in the breast in the early stages and without metastases can be treated well is advanced breast cancer is unfortunately not curable until today. Recently, however, a whole range of procedures and medications have been developed to extend life at this advanced stage at good quality of life can significantly increase.

About treatment options for metastatic breast cancer such as Anti-hormone therapy, PARP inhibitors or immunotherapy Inform the medical specialists directly at the breast center.

Patients who receive an incurable diagnosis can have a Second opinion obtain a consultation at another breast center. A clinical trial also offers affected women the opportunity to learn for the first time about new Medication to be tested even before it is approved.

Helios Network Cancer Medicine

You would like to go to the hospital where you live, but they do not have the expertise to treat your cancer? The Helios Cancer Medicine Network combines expert knowledge across hospital boundaries. Get to know our Cancer Care Network!

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