Coping With Breast Cancer

By: Dara Rees Email
By: Dara Rees Email

This year, more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Some breast cancer survivors say cancer makes them feel like less of a woman, and say learning to cope with the disease is one of its biggest challenges.

Hilda McKinney remembers the day she was diagnosed. "You waited for that phone call, the phone call was, 'I'm so sad to inform you that you have proved positive for breast cancer.'"

These two breast cancer survivors met while receiving chemotherapy. Marietta Music says the first time she lost her hair, it was traumatic.

"I was watching TV one night and just kind of ran my hands through my hair and out came a lot of hair," says Music.

"Once your hair is gone, your eyebrows and eyelashes, you realize what really matters," says McKinney.

McKinney says she found beauty on the inside, and never thought twice about wearing a wig. "It told people that I had hair when I didn't. But I had the most beautiful scarves and dangly earrings and make-up, I still wore the makeup."

Doctors say a strong support system of family, friends, and faith can help patients though treatment.

Dr. Kirti Jain, and oncologist with the Highlands Cancer Center says, "They go through treatment easier, they seem to have less side effects, they have less anxiety, they sleep well. They just do better overall."

One program is helping cancer survivors, starting from the outside. "Look Good, Feel Better" provides skin care and tips for women on how to deal with the effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

Zeda Amburgey, a cancer survivor and Look Good, Feel Better volunteer says, "You look in the mirror and think 'Oh I'm looking pretty good today and I'm feeling a little upbeat.' But if you look in the mirror and you think 'Oh I look really sick', then you start feeling really down. But it really does give you that extra lift."

The program is free to cancer survivors. The group meets once a month in Hazard, but is offered nationwide through the American Cancer Society.

Women only need to attend one meeting and receive a skin care and make-up kit to help look beautiful.

Call 1-800-ACS-2345 for more information.

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