For over 30 years we have been offering our patients effective and nontoxic complementary and supportive cancer care treatments. Our comprehensive approach to healthcare provides the tools necessary to allow the body’s own natural mechanisms to activate and accelerate the healing process. When it comes to breast cancer survivors, there are many challenges these patients face surviving the long-term effects of their chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgical and hormonal breast cancer treatments.
Many women not maintaining healthy lifestyles following breast cancer remission
Let’s look at an August 2020 study published in the medical journal Breast cancer research and treatment.(1)
In this study women who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, were given healthy lifestyle options to assist in their treatment.
This is how they initially responded:
Following diagnosis, breast cancer survivors were significantly more physically active, and consumed more fruit, in the recent survivorship period, but were less likely to be classified in the healthy weight range. (Our note: Fruit may have been a problem for them in regard to weight and excess sugar. We explain this in our article How a small change in diet can kill cancer cells.)
Women who regularly consumed alcohol generally drank less or stopped, some smokers were also able to stop smoking.
This is how they responded long-term: Not so good
Initial positive changes to health behaviors were observed post breast cancer diagnosis, except healthy body weight, but maintenance of such changes over the long-term was poor. (The cancer survivors returned to bad habits).
Breast cancer survivors may benefit from additional advice and support to make healthy lifestyle choices throughout survivorship.
These 2020 concerns are the same concerns expressed in a 2012 study (2) from the Mayo Clinic and researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center. This shows us, that in mainstream oncology lifestyle choices are difficult to get breast cancer survivirs to comply with and that women cancer survivors continually keep poorer health habits than women who had never had cancer.
Study results demonstrated that:
Cancer survivors age 30-49 had greater rates of smoking when compared with those with no cancer history.
Cancer survivors were less likely than those with no cancer history to use alcohol monthly or greater. Younger cancer survivors were the most frequent alcohol users.
Cancer survivors were less likely than those with no cancer history to engage in “strenuous exercise.” Regardless of cancer history, older participants were more likely than their juniors to engage in “mild exercise.”
Body Mass Index did not differ by cancer survivor status. However, cancer survivors reported less weight gain than the noncancer group over the last five years.
Cancer survivors were more likely than those with no cancer history to rate their overall health as “poor.”
Long-term survivors of cancer face daunting challenges
In our many years of helping patients, we have seen many cancer survivors. Being a cancer survivor for some is not easy.
A February 2020 study in the journal Health communication (3) opens with these sentences.
“Long-term survivors of cancer face daunting challenges to their physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being in the years following completion of cancer treatment. Most long-term survivors face a new reality shaped by chronic “late effects” of treatments, or illnesses and conditions caused by chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, medications, and other treatments. Copious biomedical research explores the health challenges of patients undergoing cancer treatment, yet relatively little investigates the lived experience of Long-term survivors from a health communication perspective.”
We have seen the long-term effects of breast cancer treatments
We have seen the long-term effects of breast cancer treatments. In our decades of experience in providing cancer support therapies we have helped long-term cancer survivors with their long-term challenges that include fatigue, cognitive and memory disorders, physical, emotional, and psychosocial changes by combining conventional, complementary and functional therapies individualized to the needs of each cancer survivor. We also place great emphasis on an extremely thorough series of lab tests to evaluate the cells of the immune system, inflammatory markers, antioxidant defenses, nutritional status, and overall toxic burden or current and past cancer treatments.
Up to 90% of breast cancer survivors experience unexpected long–term health issues as a result of traditional cancer treatments
A November 2019 (4) study conducted by a research team at Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky offered these observations:
“Women are increasingly surviving breast cancer, but up to 90% experience unexpected long–term sequelae as a result of treatment. Symptoms may include physical, functional, emotional, and psychosocial changes that can dramatically alter the quality of life for breast cancer survivors.
Although women experience significant changes after breast cancer treatment, many fail to receive thorough assessment of their symptoms, education about interventions, and treatment options to optimize health promoting strategies.
Long–term physical changes include anatomic changes, chronic pain, phantom breast pain, axillary web syndrome, and lymphedema.
In addition, women may have decreased strength, aerobic capacity, mobility, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. Emotional and psychosocial changes include depression, anxiety, fatigue, concerns about body image, and issues with sexuality. Treatment should be multifactorial based on thorough assessment of symptoms and can include medication, exercise, counseling, physical and occupational therapy, and alternative and complementary therapies.”
Knowledge about how breast cancer survivors cope is important
Let’s look at a January 2020 (5) study that discusses the broad range of challenges breast cancer survivors face and how they cope. Here the researchers suggest:
“Increased breast cancer survival means that many women live with long-term consequences of their cancer and treatment. Knowledge about their coping is important.” In these research three main themes or characteristics of the breast cancer survivor emerged:
1 ) Some felt healthy and beyond cancer; others suffered from reduced energy, joy of life, and self-esteem. Being affected by a life-threatening illness made their fundamental values clearer. Using cancer experiences to help others was emphasized.
2 ) Positive thinking, distancing the negative: striving to maintain positive thinking and distancing themselves from insecurity and fear of recurrence. A step-by-step strategy was important to cope with these new life situations.
3 ) Need for understanding and recognition: support was experienced as necessary and challenging. Recognition of posttreatment ailments was emphasized. Being more socially selective and preferring positive people were essential.
Conclusion: “Cancer experiences changed the women’s lives. Their coping varied. Fewer but selected supporters were preferred. Understanding and recognition from others for the women’s changed life situation was essential. . . Healthcare professionals should prepare women for a changed life situation because of illness experiences and the adverse effects of treatments. The support and information offered must be adjusted to each woman’s individual needs, coping capacity, and life situation.”
And again, these are the patients we have seen in our decades of experience. Women who were initially not well equipped to handle “survivorship.” This is why we offer a whole-body approach to cancer includes a variety of therapies, such as nutrition and lifestyle counseling, dietary modifications, supplementation, intravenous vitamin C and other substances, oxidative therapies, immunotherapy, detoxification, lifestyle modifications and exercise therapy, spirituality and mind-body techniques, including stress management and meditation, all with the goal of strengthening the immune system and restoring normal cellular function.
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness we are always looking for answers. Long-term survivorship of breast cancer comes with many challenges.
If you would like to explore more information, please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
1 Tollosa DN, Holliday E, Hure A, Tavener M, James EL. A 15-year follow-up study on long-term adherence to health behaviour recommendations in women diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020;182(3):727-738. doi:10.1007/s10549-020-05704-4
2 Rausch SM, Millay S, Scott C, Pruthi S, Clark MM, Patten C, Stan D, Sellers T, Vachon C. Health behaviors among cancer survivors receiving screening mammography. Am J Clin Oncol. 2012 Feb;35(1):22-31. doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e318200598e. PMID: 21293247; PMCID: PMC3387989.
3 Ellingson LL, Borofka KGE. Long-Term Cancer Survivors’ Everyday Embodiment. Health Commun. 2020 Feb;35(2):180-191. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2018.1550470. Epub 2018 Nov 22.
4 Lovelace DL, McDaniel LR, Golden D. Long‐Term Effects of Breast Cancer Surgery, Treatment, and Survivor Care. Journal of midwifery & women’s health. 2019 Jul 19.
5 Drageset S, Lindstrøm TC, Ellingsen S. “I Have Both Lost and Gained.” Norwegian Survivors’ Experiences of Coping 9 Years After Primary Breast Cancer Surgery. Cancer nursing. 2020 Jan 1;43(1):E30-7.