About 2,670 U.S. men are estimated to have been diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Male breast cancer comprises less than 1% of all breast cancer cases. Given its rarity, there are a lot of misconceptions and stigma surrounding male breast cancer, which often results in a lot of stress and anxiety in men who have been diagnosed with the disease. Furthermore, the lack of male-centric information regarding breast cancer can bring about psychological distress. Dealing with this condition can be very tough, not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with the stress and other psychological effects that come with a male breast cancer diagnosis.
Strengthening Your Mind And Spirit
Experiencing stress or anxiety is a natural part of life; however, in the context of a breast cancer diagnosis, these feelings can become very over whelming. Men with breast cancer experience anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as traumatic stress symptoms. Men with breast cancer are also at risk of developing avoidant coping strategies and negative body issues as well as feelings of fear and uncertainty when it comes to their diagnosis. While primary treatment options like mastectomy and chemotherapy focus on healing your physical body, an alternative form of treatment like psychotherapy can help you deal with the psychological effects of male breast cancer. Therapy can strengthen your mind and equip you with positive coping mechanisms in order to overcome the stress of your illness. Problem-solving therapy has been found to reduce psychological distress in adult cancer patients. Meanwhile, hypnotherapy can be used to manage psychological symptoms, as well as physical pain and other side effects of cancer treatment.
You can also combine psychotherapy with mindfulness-based activities as a way of overcoming the stress of male breast cancer. For example, meditation can be a wonderful way to access your thoughts and emotions regarding breast cancer, but in a non-judgmental and stress-free environment. A mindfulness-based stress reduction program helps cancer patients by reducing physical and psychological symptoms such as stress, mood disturbances, fatigue and sleep disorders.
Staying Fit And Active
Regular exercise is a common way for men to deal with their breast cancer diagnosis. Staying fit and active can relieve a lot of the cancer-related stress because a stronger body will be more capable of dealing with surgery, chemotherapy and other concerns related to male breast cancer. It can also feel empowering to know that you’re doing everything you can to recover and reduce the risk of breast cancer growing or recurring and can offer patients a sense of control when they're at their lowest point.
Another way to stay fit is by adopting a healthier diet. Aim to incorporate more vegetables, fruits, lean chicken, fatty fish and whole grains into your diet. Apart from being nutritious, these ingredients are also known for reducing stress hormones in the body. Meanwhile, you should avoid unhealthy foods such as red meats and processed foods that are high in sugar and fat. Habits that fuel cancer, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, should also be avoided.
Male breast cancer is a serious disease. However, because of its rarity, it’s understudied and not as fully understood as female breast cancer. This often results in a lot of stress and anxiety in men who receive this diagnosis. Overcoming the stress and psychological effects of male breast cancer is possible through psychotherapy and meditation, which help strengthen your mind and spirit, as well as regular exercise which fortifies your physical body. With these stress-relief techniques, you’re able to find more positive coping mechanisms as well as a better prognosis for male breast cancer.
HIS Breast Cancer Awareness, a nonprofit organization is here to assist and help reduce the stress by providing great information and support for men at risk and those receiving a diagnosis.