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Breast Cancer - FAQ's and Other Things You Need to Know

Exercise: The importance of exercise, especially if you are accustomed to routine exercise, cannot be stressed enough. Not only does it maintain muscle tone, circulation, and respiration, but it also encourages a more positive outlook. If you are not accustomed to a regular exercise routine, a physical therapist is part of your Oncology Team and will be available to discuss exercise options.

Intimacy: Physical intimacy with your significant other may be affected by numerous factors, both physical and psychological, during treatment. It will depend on how you feel, both mentally and physically, your energy level and the comfort level of your relationship. Don't be surprised if your energy level is low and your desire is just not there. Sometimes it takes time. Talk through anxieties you and your partner may be feeling -- communication is so important. Here are some things you and your partner may want to consider as you feel up to resuming sexual activity:
  • Pick occasions when both of you have time and energy; after naps may be right.
  • Set the scene for romance -- this may keep you relaxed
  • For women, the treatment you are undergoing/went through may cause vaginal dryness. There are several products, (i.e. Astroglide), that may ease this discomfort. Discuss this with your oncology team -- they will have several suggestions!
  • Most importantly, it is important for both of you to know that, from a medical standpoint, sexual activity is not contraindicated. It is important to keep the closeness viable, especially during times as challenging as undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Contraception: While undergoing chemotherapy, it is important to realize that even though your menstrual cycle may be absent or irregular, you may still ovulate. Conceiving during chemotherapy could be harmful to a fetus. It is most important to discuss contraception with your medical oncologist.
Fertility Issues: If future pregnancies are a possibility, you should discuss fertility issues with your medical oncologist. Emory Healthcare offers a full-service Reproductive Center.
Depression: From diagnosis, through treatment, to recovery and assuming life as a "cancer survivor", this will be one of the most challenging times for you and your loved ones others. It is helpful to realize that feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, and being overwhelmed, are all expected throughout your breast cancer journey. It is important to share your emotional challenges with your oncology team. There are members of your team trained to help you deal with the emotions brought on by your cancer diagnosis. Our social workers/therapists are available at any time during your visits to Winship Cancer Institute.