When we lose someone we love, it is natural for us to grieve. The grieving process is how we deal with loss – the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief may be.
In many ways, grief can manifest and have an effect on your overall wellbeing, from mental to physical health. You may also experience a number of emotions, such as anger and guilt – not just sadness.
There are usually five stages of grief that end with acceptance. The Mind Faculty explains these below:
This is actually a coping mechanism – it helps us process news that is too difficult to handle, and can make us feel like someone else is going through the tragedy.
“What did my loved one do to deserve this?” “Why is this happening to me?” During this time, when feelings of loss feel the most painful, these thoughts are normal.
Anger is a natural reaction to injustice, and when we feel scared, it is also a way to protect ourselves.
You could find yourself thinking, “If only I had done this” or “Is this part of a master plan?”
when trying to make sense of what has happened. Confusion, longing and desperation can accompany this.
When the news starts to settle in, and you finally start to accept your new reality, you may find that grief arrives in waves of distress or sadness.
The last stage – when you’re to start rebuilding your life without your loved one in it.
It is important to know that grief is not linear – you may find yourself moving two steps forward, only to have something set you back five steps. Not everyone will go through these stage, some may even merge with each other: anger mixed with bargaining, sadness mixed with acceptance. Remember – everybody grieves differently and at their own pace.
If you need professional help when grieving, you can find out more about The Mind Faculty’s services here.
Cancer is a complicated disease – according to WebMD, there isn’t a cure, but there are treatments that may be able to cure some people. It doesn’t help that there’s still a stigma surrounding it either with cancer being stereotyped as a life-threatening disease.
When someone we love is diagnosed with breast cancer, we may find ourselves cycling through anticipatory grief – the mourning that occurs when expecting a death. You know you have to be strong for them, but this can be difficult when you feel like you’re falling apart at the seams. We asked The Mind Faculty how to deal with these feelings without making it harder for your loved one:
- Reach out to your support network
Talk to your other family members, friends or even a counsellor. This is a scary, challenging and devastating situation, so you’re not being weak for needing extra help.
- Practice self-care
You can only be there for your loved one as much as you are there for yourself. Make sure you’re eating healthy and moving your body – even if it’s stretching for 5 minutes a day, and allow yourself a break by going out with friends or someone who is removed from the situation.
- Honor your feelings
You may be tempted to think, “I can’t be be sad, I have to be strong for my loved one”, but by minimizing the way you feel – you won’t allow yourself to grieve or process it properly. Try venting to a friend, keeping a journal or even screaming into a pillow. Your pain is valid.
It’s important to be patient with yourself as grief follows its own timeline. When it comes to caring for them while managing you own stress and anxiety, The Mind Faculty suggests:
- Create positive memories with your loved one
If it’s not possible, you can still reminisce about your favorite times together – try making them a scrapbook.
- Hold space for them
Listen without trying to ‘solve’ what they are going through. For example, if they tell you that they are scared – don’t say, “There’s nothing to be afraid about! Modern medicine is amazing”. Instead, try saying, “I can only imagine how scary it must be for you”.
- Educate yourself
Do your research on breast cancer and their treatments, but don’t overwhelm them with information. To avoid this from happening, allow them to ask you first.
- Watch how you speak about cancer
We usually use ‘war metaphors’ when speaking about cancer. For example – “we must fight it”, “she is a cancer survivor”. This suggests that people who have died from cancer didn’t fight hard enough and can make those who suffer from it feel guilty or inadequate if their treatment isn’t working.
While you can prioritize your loved one, please make sure to take care of your mental health as well. Remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Follow The Mind Faculty on Instagram for more professional advice and mental health support.
It doesn’t matter if you’re below the age of 40 or don’t have a family history of breast cancer (we bust those myths here), you should be doing a breast self-examination every month, and a clinical checkup every year as part of your annual physical.
“When should I do my monthly self-exam?”
According to WebMD, the most accurate time to check your breasts is a week to 10 days after the start of your period – when your breasts aren’t already tender or swollen.
“Where should I do it?”
You can either examine your breasts while standing in front of the mirror, in the shower or when lying down in bed – the Singapore Cancer Society mentions that this is the best self-examination method.
“How do I do a breast self-check?”
In front of the mirror:
- Put your hands on your hips and see if there are any changes in your breast shape, skin texture or nipple.
- Lift your arms above your head to look for skin dimples or any other abnormalities under your breasts.
In the shower or bed:
- Using your 3 middle fingers, feel your breasts in a circular motion from the outer area towards the nipple.
- Gently squeeze your nipple to see if there is any discharge.
- Slowly push down on your breast from your armpit to your cleavage to check for any lumps.
“What am I looking for?”
- Breast shape – hard lumps, bumps, dimples, veins, a difference in size.
- Skin texture – redness, sores, roughness.
- Nipple – a sunken appearance, crust, bloody discharge.
“When do I go for a clinical exam?”
If you detect any of the above changes, you should consult your doctor right away. Although most lumps or changes aren’t cancerous, it is still important to take the precaution of having them checked as soon as possible. You can also talk to your doctor if you have any concerns and ask about doing a breast cancer screening.
2.1 million women get diagnosed with breast cancer each year, making it the most frequent form of cancer among women. According to the Breast Cancer Foundation, this places one in 19 Malaysian women at risk.
As common as it is, there are still so many misconceptions about the disease. These inaccuracies can prevent women from receiving the treatment they require. Below are 8 myths about breast cancer you’ve probably heard before:
Young adults can’t get breast cancer.
Breast cancer can occur at any age, but a person’s risk of developing it increases as they grow older.
It is only hereditary.
According to the National Cancer Foundation, Inc., only 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer actually have a family history of the disease.
Men can’t get breast cancer.
Yes, they can – although the percentage is small, the mortality rate is higher than women because of the lack of awareness.
All lumps are cancerous.
Most lumps found in your breasts are not cancerous, but you should still go and get them check.
Breast cancer is fatal.
No, the Breast Cancer Foundation noted that only 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer suffer from metastases – the dangerous spread of the disease.
Underarm antiperspirants and deodorant cause breast cancer.
Nope! There is no conclusive evidence to this claim, so don’t let it stop you from smelling fresh and clean.
The hormones in birth control pills cause breast cancer.
No, the birth control pills available on the market these days contain a lower dose of estrogen and progesterone.
High-fat foods cause breast cancer.
Eating too much high-fat foods is unhealthy, but studies have not been able to link the two.
With the rise in fake news, it has become imperative for us to stay informed and identity misinformation about breast cancer. If you are concerned about your health – reach out to a doctor and nurse as they would be able to provide the most reliable information.