Dealing with emotional issues throughout your breast cancer journey

Throughout the cancer journey there are many points of trauma, from the shock of the initial diagnosis, to treatment complications or failure, unexpected reactions from side effects from medications as well as life events which still carry on even though there is already a “full plate” of other issues.

Petrea King has written extensively on the subject of trauma and resilience and has this to say about it:
“Once the trauma is over and fight, flight or freeze dissipates, sometimes people stay in that hyper-vigilant state. These are appropriate reactions to an immediate trauma, but they are not useful on a longer term basis and can actually be quite damaging to the body if feelings are left unacknowledged or expressed. Sometimes it can be weeks, months or years later that we are able to revisit the emotions around the trauma. And sometimes we need assistance from a good friend, GP or counsellor if we continue to feel overwhelmed, depressed, isolated or disheartened.

It is important to do this in a gentle way and with compassion and wisdom for ourselves and others. In time, we can allow the trauma to become part of our history rather than something that continues to undermine our peace and health in the present moment. Experiencing emotions can be confusing. It can happen in waves or cycles. We may feel emotional extremes, laughing one moment and crying the next. It is important to develop compassion for ourselves and to recognise that we can honour our losses and our grief by how we choose to live in the present, rather than allowing our future to be dominated by the past trauma.

As we move through the emotions we integrate the trauma and discharge the stressful consequences from our body and our life. This increases our wisdom, resilience and our ability to have compassion for ourselves and others in the future.”

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If you are suffering from the effects of your diagnosis or treatment or the fear of cancer coming back, there are various options available to help you move forward. You can contact our counsellors on 9324 3703, call the Breast Cancer Clinical Psychology Service on 9224 1629, see your GP and access the Allied Psychology Services Programme or come and look at the resources in our library here at Breast Cancer Care WA, including some of Petrea’s books and CD’s.