Coping With Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

Posted on: 7 January 2015

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Hormones are already high during pregnancy, but add an unexpected and unwanted breast cancer diagnosis to that and chances are you are a whirlwind of emotions. Some of your body's changes are welcome – a growing abdomen and the stirrings of your little baby – while others are not – the pain and fatigue of cancer. The best thing you can do for you and your unborn child at this time is learn to cope with your situation. Some suggestions for dealing with cancer during pregnancy are outlined below.

Accept Each Emotional and Physical Change

One of the first things to do is expect emotional and physical trials. When you feel exhausted, address that particular need. Lay down and rest until you feel less stressed. When you feel apprehensive for yourself and your baby, confide in someone about your fears and make a plan of action for both best and worst case scenarios. Accepting and addressing each need as it arises will help you cope with your cancer on a small scale. Focusing on what you can change – your emotional responses and your daily activities – will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by things you can't control about your cancer and pregnancy. These include cancer size, the number of required doctor appointments, and labor pains.

Feel Confident in Your Baby's Health

You probably have a lot of questions about this diagnosis. You wonder how you will be affected by the breast cancer. And then there is the dominating question about your baby: what does this mean for your child? As the cancer progresses, will your infant's life be at risk? Thankfully, breast cancer does not directly affect your child's health. Most babies develop normally in the womb and undergo a safe birth with no consequent complications following delivery.

Understand the Risks of Treatment During Pregnancy

Going full term without starting cancer treatment is not an option. Your personal health is at risk if you try to put off cancer treatment until after your child is born. However, there are treatment options that have minimal risk associated with them for both you and your baby.

The treatment most recommended during pregnancy is breast removal. You should consider both lumpectomy and mastectomy. Lumpectomy is a partial removal followed by reconstructive surgery while mastectomy is a full removal with reconstruction. Following either surgeries, you will need to undergo further treatment to ensure that all cancer cells have been removed. Chemotherapy during pregnancy is unpleasant, but it has not been shown to have adverse effects on unborn infants. Other treatments should wait until after your baby is born to perform.

Prepare for Post-Pregnancy Treatment

Expect post-pregnancy cancer treatment. Even if you had a mastectomy, you should be checked regularly for existing or resurfacing cancer cells. If any cancer is found, it can be treated with methods that had previously been discouraged. More specifically, you might need radiation treatment combined with chemotherapy. Another option is targeted cancer therapy, a form of chemotherapy that only affects cancerous tissue and doesn't cause harm to healthy cells.

Coping with breast cancer during pregnancy is achieved as you accept the diagnosis and learn about the effects and risks of your cancer. Accepting your diagnosis will help you deal with physical and emotional trials as they come, instead of being overwhelmed by the entire situation. It will enable you to take care of your baby and remain active as much as possible. Learning about the effects of cancer on your unborn baby will give you courage as you realize your child shouldn't be affected by the cancer. Knowing the best cancer treatment options during and after pregnancy will help you defeat the cancer invading your body.