A metastatic breast cancer (mBC) diagnosis comes with a heavy emotional toll, often heightened by the enormous strides being made in the medical community. While it’s wonderful to hear about patients defying the odds and living years longer thanks to advancements in precision medicine, the truth is that every patient’s journey is unique, and far too many still die way too soon. The paradox of living with mBC is the idea that while there is newfound hope for longer, better-quality lives, it’s completely normal—and okay—to have moments where you’re definitely not okay. That’s why self-care with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is so important.
1.Find kindred spirits
We’re undeniably in an era where cancer treatment is experiencing a seismic shift. Precision medicine, targeted therapies like Enhertu, and ongoing research have transformed mBC from a death sentence to a condition many live with for years. It’s a narrative of hope and breakthroughs. Still, it can also inadvertently pressure patients to always feel ‘hopeful’ or ‘grateful’ and leaves many without the support they need to discuss the realities of their disease honestly. It’s important to find others who can identify with your experience. Ask your cancer center about in-person meetups; Outcomes4Me also has a dedicated online Community for mBC patients.
2. Treat yourself like you treat your friends
Even with the most advanced treatments, mBC remains a challenging condition with physical, emotional, and psychological impacts. There will be days when the weight of the diagnosis takes a toll, when side effects overwhelm, or when the sheer uncertainty of the future sinks in. It’s crucial to understand that feeling down or anxious doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful or losing the ‘battle’; it means you’re human. Give yourself the grace and support you would give someone else going through a difficult time. Go for a walk, meditate, or do something that helps you decompress (like reading a good book or losing yourself in a movie).
3. Prioritize your mental wellness
With mBC, milestones like birthdays or anniversaries can become double-edged swords. On one hand, they’re a cause for celebration, a testament to your resilience and the wonders of medical science. On the other hand, they can be a poignant reminder of the life you once envisioned, eliciting complex emotions. While medical treatments focus on physical well-being, emotional resilience often comes from a community of loved ones and fellow patients who truly understand what you’re going through. The role of psychological well-being is no less critical than the advances in medical science. Support groups, both online and offline, can offer a lifeline, while talk therapy and medications for mental health support are equally crucial.
4.Take control of your care
As new treatments emerge and more patients live longer, it’s okay to feel both optimistic and overwhelmed. Your emotional experience doesn’t have to fit neatly into a narrative of ‘triumph over adversity’ or ‘relentless positivity.’ It’s more than okay to have good days and bad days and to take each as they come. If you want to connect with a community that understands your unique challenges and triumphs, consider joining the Outcomes4Me app. There, you can share your stories with other mBC patients and gain access to the latest treatment advances and clinical trials tailored explicitly to your type of metastatic breast cancer. It’s a space where you can be authentically you while staying informed, supported, and empowered.
5. Take it day by day
Some days will be better than others, and that’s OK. On days when you feel great, revel in that feeling and try to do something that brings you joy. On other days, you might not feel physically well, and you might feel sad. Don’t feel guilty about feeling either great or not great. Accept yourself for how you’re feeling on any given day and know that however you feel is perfectly OK.
Take an active role in your mBC care by downloading the Outcomes4Me app. Embrace the complex reality of living with mBC, knowing you’re supported by a community that gets it, every step of the way.