It isn’t easy to just turn anxiety off, especially when it’s related to something as life-changing as cancer often is. With that said, the truth is that your anxiety isn’t helping, and it could actually be harming your general health. For people suffering from anxiety related to their breast cancer risk it’s vital to take action by managing their preventative health care and talking to a licensed psychologist.
The Generational Trauma of Breast Cancer
Watching a loved one, such as your mother, struggle through the trauma of breast cancer isn’t an experience you are likely to forget. Knowing that breast cancer can be hereditary doesn’t make it any easier.
Even if your family member has a promising outcome and can return to life as normal, you’re stuck wondering if and when it will happen to you. In some ways, the looming threat of higher breast cancer risk makes it hard to forget the scared little girl you were when your mother first got her diagnosis.
Finding Another Way
Existing in fear is no way to live. That is why it is important to work through your anxiety about breast cancer risk. What your mother or grandmother went through is very different from what might happen today. Breast tumor treatment options in Houston are so much more varied than they were even ten years ago.
In addition to the expansion of treatment options, there’s also a lot more that can be done to evaluate and manage your risk factors. With regular and thorough preventative care you’ll greatly increase the chance that any cancer you develop is found and treated as early as possible.
Managing Anxiety about Breast Cancer Risk
Deciding to take this path is challenging. For many of us, the desire to put the horse blinders up and just pretend like everything is fine is strong. To help make this approach a little easier, we have put together a list of steps you can take to use your anxiety and eventually move beyond it.
Step 1: Talk to a Psychologist
If your anxiety is causing you to skip screenings and other forms of preventative care, then your first task is to make an appointment with a psychologist or therapist. If you’re living in a more urban area with lots of options, aim to find someone specializing in medical anxiety or cancer. Studies have shown that actual breast cancer patients and those with anxiety about their risk share a number of traits.
Step 2: Get Genetic Testing
Once you can talk to a doctor about your concerns, ask about genetic testing. Hereditary breast cancer is associated with a mutation of the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene. We now have the ability to test for those mutations, which allows doctors to evaluate patient risk with more accuracy.
Even if there have been multiple incidences of breast cancer in your family history, it is perfectly possible that your test could come back negative. This is a weight off the shoulders for many women. However, if it does come back positive, all it means is beginning your screenings at a younger age.
Step 3: Find the Right Doctor
If you’re due to start regular mammograms, then make sure you find a center that does them regularly. For patients who live in the Houston area, the Breast Health Institute is an excellent resource. Their specialists basically look at mammograms all day, every day. If anyone is going to be able to find the tiniest spot of worry, it’s them.
Step 4: Address Lifestyle Habits
Whether or not you’re at increased risk of breast cancer due to hereditary gene mutations, addressing less than ideal lifestyle habits is the best form of cancer prevention. If you aren’t sure what you should change, talk to your doctor about your current consumption of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. Discuss your typical diet and exercise routine. Having this information will help them to make suggestions to reduce your risks.
Taking Life by the Horns
Life is too short to focus on the possible end. If you need help dealing with anxiety and getting preventative medical care, talk to a friend or family member to help get yourself onto a path that will allow you to enjoy your life in the present.