Breast Cancer and its mental health impact

(ABC 6 News) – When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, it not only impacts the patient but their family and friends.

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A breast cancer diagnosis can make someone feel anxious and scared. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly one in every four people is diagnosed with breast cancer-related depression. That study said people who are diagnosed, are more likely to experience anxiety, mood swings, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD.)

Breast cancer survivor Cati Stone said while she was having a mix of emotions when she was diagnosed, her family was scared and had questions during this time of uncertainty.

“I do think there are mental and emotional challenges faced by caregivers that aren’t often recognized. It’s hard to take care of someone who is battling a life-threatening disease. And we need to make sure we are also uplifting and thinking about the emotional state of those who are providing care for people in treatment,” said Stone.

Something to keep in mind is it might not just be the diagnosis impacting your mental health. Chemo, hormonal therapy, and medical menopause can all have side effects of depression, anxiety, or mood swings.

When someone beats cancer, it is likely a happy time for the patient and their families. It can also be bittersweet.

Northwestern Medicine said even when treatment is over, your physical body and emotional spirit are still healing. Life after beating cancer will have its ups and downs.

“On a personal level, it was difficult to end treatment because I felt as though I was no longer fighting breast cancer. And that was a difficult emotional switch and frankly one that I did not expect to have. I thought I had been in the fight for two years because my treatment was very advanced and aggressive because my breast cancer was advanced and aggressive,” said Stone.

“And once the treatment was over, it was almost like a letdown because I wondered, what does this mean for my future?”

Stone said survivor’s guilt is something that needs to be talked about more.

“I’m not sure many people admit to it. I certainly do. One thing I did that helped with that is that I got really involved with other people who were going through breast cancer. My decision was a really bold one. I was an attorney at the time of my diagnosis and left that career to work at Susan G. Komen to really give my entire career to this cause.”

Stone went on to add you don’t need to give your entire career to the cause. The most important thing you can do is make yourself available to support others going through the journey.

If you or someone you know needs assistance during their journey, you can click here.