breast cancer as a chronic illness: coping with the emotional toll

My oncologist likes to say that, for women in my situation, treating Stage 4 breast cancer is like treating diabetes (or any other chronic illness). It must be taken seriously and treated but it can be managed and, when one responds well, the progression can be slowed or even stopped for long periods.

This is good to hear, given the alternative. And it’s infinitely more hopeful than the initial prognosis when my cancer first returned.

But chronic illness brings its own set of challenges. While I am happy to be going for treatment only once a month, in some ways this makes it harder to face treatment. I certainly resent it more. And long term chemotherapy does take its physical toll. But it is the emotional grind that is perhaps the most debilitating.

I wrote this post for MyBreastCancerNetwork.Com and you can follow the link to read the rest of it.

4 Responses to breast cancer as a chronic illness: coping with the emotional toll

  1. jillaldrich says:

    Hi Laurie,

    If you get this twice, my apologies. I seem to be comment-challenged tonight.

    I think this is great post: incredibly well-written, optimistic, realistic, honest. And as I said on Breast Cancer Network, where I first saw this article, I think a larger audience deserves to read it. I’d submit to Cure or one of the other cancer magazines. The information is relevant to women with all stages of cancer, as well as their friends and family. Thanks very much for posting here.


  2. bcjenster says:

    I agree with everything Jill said. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. Laurie says:

    Thanks so much to you both – it means even more coming from two who write so well and who get the whole cancer thing…;-)

  4. My oncologist also used the diabetes comparison — I did not like it. I have several friends living with diabetes. It’s not fun. But it’s not cancer. True, I did have one friend who died very young from diabetes. But everyone else I know is doing just fine.

    Lucky me, I have diabetes in my family history too. I’m just waiting for the shoe to drop. What’s the oncologist going to say if I have cancer AND diabetes….

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