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Most people will have surgery as part of their breast cancer treatment. This might be breast-conserving surgery (usually called wide local excision or lumpectomy) or removing your whole breast (mastectomy) with or without breast reconstruction.

Looking for the first time

Even though you might have seen pictures of scars from breast cancer surgery, it can be difficult to face the reality for the first time. Women who have had breast cancer tell us that getting used to how your body looks and feels after surgery is usually a slow process.

You may be encouraged to look at your scar before you leave hospital, but sometimes you’re sent home too quickly, often before dressings are removed.

When you see your scar without the dressings and tape for the first time you may choose to be alone, with a nurse or your partner, friend or a family member.

Whatever you decide, try not to leave it too long before you look as the delay may make it more difficult.

Research suggests that the sooner you confront the physical changes to your body, the easier you’re likely to find it to gain confidence in the way you look.

For some women, surgery doesn’t affect how they feel about themselves, but many others find the changes more difficult to accept.

Early days

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For the first few weeks after your operation the area is likely to be bruised and swollen, and will feel numb to the touch, but for most people this will improve over time.

Some people feel unhappy and shocked the first few times they look. If that’s how it is for you, you may also want to avoid looking at yourself again. But any initial intense feelings will lessen if you’re able to keep looking.

If you have a partner, letting them see the surgical scars and changes to your body sooner may also make being intimate easier in the long term.

Getting used to looking at your body

Here are some tips to help you get used to looking at your body.*

  • First, look at yourself in a full-length mirror fully clothed and pick out three things you really like about yourself.
  • Then try the exercise in underwear.
  • Move on to looking at your naked body in a full-length mirror. Describe what you see and what you like or what makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable.
  • Look at and touch your scars or breast reconstruction so that you get used to how they now feel.
  • The more often you look at and feel your body, the less different it will seem.

Some women will continue to feel uncomfortable about looking at their body. If you’ve tried the techniques above and still find it difficult or upsetting, think about speaking to a professional counsellor. Your GP (local doctor) or breast care nurse should be able to arrange this for you.

5533 We’re here to help

If you’d like to talk about this or any other breast cancer or breast health-related issue, please call our Helplineon 0808 800 6000.

There's also lots of helpful information in our free booklet Your body, intimacy and sex.

#hiddeneffects

To help tell the real story of what it’s like to live with breast cancer, we’re running a #hiddeneffects campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To join in visit the hidden effects website.

*Adapted from Intimacy & Sexuality For Cancer Patients and their Partners published by the Sexual Advice Association.

Post date: 30 October 2014

Martha was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, after having kidney cancer in 2011. She can't wait to get glammed up at our Glasgow fashion show on Wednesday 12 November.

Martha's story

'I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2013 when I had just turned 70. It was detected after a mammogram. I then returned to have an ultrasound and biopsy; this was followed by an MRI and a mastectomy. I then had another operation to remove lymph nodes.

4857 'Physically I have not felt very affected and still lead my life as normal although I have a few problems sleeping but nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things.

'I didn’t have a reconstruction but have found some nice bras which have really helped me regain confidence. I have also found it very helpful visiting the Kilbride hospice day centre.

'What would I say to somebody who has been diagnosed with breast cancer? That’s difficult to answer. I am a very positive person and have accepted that life has to go on. I had kidney cancer in 2011 which was worse for me as I had never been ill before. Once I had got over the anxiety of kidney cancer, which took a long time, it really helped me face the challenge of breast cancer.

'I cannot wait to get all glammed up and take to the catwalk!'

Martha will be on the catwalk on 12 November.

Find out more about The Show

Post date: 29 October 2014

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The England Women’s football team held their very own Pink Friday last week to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The team had a jam-packed day of team-building activities to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Care.

Speaking about the team’s support for us, Captain Steph Houghton said,

'The whole team is really proud to support Pink Fridays and the fantastic work that Breast Cancer Care does. It's a fun way to get behind the charity and help raise awareness of breast cancer.'

We’re absolutely thrilled that the England Women’s team held a Pink Friday for us! All the funds raised will help Breast Cancer Care support the thousands of women and men waking up to the harsh reality of breast cancer every day.

Holding a Pink Friday isn’t all the England Women’s team is doing to support Breast Cancer Care. Their eagerly anticipated match against Germany at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 23 November will be in aid of Breast Cancer Care too.

Find out more about this historic match and how you can book exclusive tickets

Organise your own Pink Friday!

It’s not too late to hold your own Pink Friday this October and raise much needed funds for Breast Cancer Care. Your Pink Friday can be as fancy or as fuss free as you like.

You could organise a pink dress down day at work with colleagues, a fabulous, pink and glittery girls night out or simply have a pink night in with your family – the possibilities are endless.

Whether you raise £20 or £200, every penny counts and will help someone through one of the most difficult challenges they’ll ever face.

Register your Pink Friday now

Post date: 28 October 2014

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On Thursday 23 October, as part of its annual Diwali celebrations, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in North-West London – popularly known as the Neasden Temple – was lit up pink throughout their fireworks display in support of Breast Cancer Care during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

BAPS, a charitable organisation affiliated with the UN’s Economic and Social Council, works in partnership with Breast Cancer Care to spread the vital breast awareness message within the community, ensuring that local people know how to spot the early signs of this brutal disease.

The Mandir remained pink on Friday when hundreds of women attended a Pink Friday event and donned pink to support the campaign, helping to raise money for Breast Cancer Care’s vital support services for anyone affected by breast cancer.

Marie Harry, Breast Health Promotion and Training Officer at Breast Cancer Care, attended the event with thousands of spectators gathered for the Diwali celebrations. She said:

“It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to join this year’s Diwali celebrations at the Mandir, and to see it lit up pink and also everyone wearing pink in support of us and the work we do!

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and the vast majority of breast cancers are found by women themselves. We know that breast awareness is low among Asian women so working with organisations like BAPS is a great way to share how important it is to be breast aware.” 

Rena Amin of the Neasden Temple added:

“We’ve supported Breast Cancer Care since 2007 because we are passionate about informing Asian women and the wider community about breast cancer. Diwali is a joyous occasion but it’s also a time for reflection and charity, so we’re very excited to use the festivities as an opportunity to raise awareness of this important cause during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

To continue their valuable community work, Breast Cancer Care is looking for enthusiastic new volunteers to help them run local workshops about breast awareness, the changes to look and feel for, breast cancer risk factors, and caring for their breast health. Applications are welcome from those with or without a personal diagnosis of breast cancer and volunteers will be supported with training. Anyone interested can get in touch with Breast Cancer Care’s Breast Health Promotion team by calling 0345 092 0809 or emailing bhp@breastcancercare.org.uk   

To find out more about BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and their support for Breast Cancer Care visit londonmandir.baps.org

To hold your own Pink Friday event register now at breastcancercare.org.uk/pinkfriday

For media enquiries contact:

020 7960 3463 or press@breastcancercare.org.uk
Out of office hours: 07702 901 334

Post date: 27 October 2014

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, many other people are also affected.

4843 As well as adult family and friends, around a third of the 55,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year have children at home, who will usually need and want to know about what's going on.

Deciding what, how and when to tell them can be difficult, but we know that children of all ages are less anxious and frightened if they know what’s happening.

We can help

We have lots of information that can help. This includes a comic book-style resource for children and young people (8-15 years), Medikidz explains breast cancer, and an illustrated storybook for young children, Mummy's Lump.

Medikidz explain breast cancer was written based on conversations with 12-year-old Bill, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. It features a gang of five superhero characters designed to appeal to young people.

Mummy's Lump has the look and feel of a classic children's stoy book. It follows Elly and Jack as they learn of their mother’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. It's also available in a read-aloud version for iPad and iPhone.

Order your copies now

#hiddeneffects

To help tell the real story of what it’s like to live with breast cancer, we’re running a #hiddeneffects campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To join in visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk

Post date: 27 October 2014