Coping with secondary breast cancer
At times, coping with secondary breast cancer can be very physically and emotionally demanding. But there will also be periods when the cancer or its symptoms are under control and you’re getting on with day-to-day life.
Looking after yourself is important and there are usually things you can do to help yourself. This section gives some suggestions on this and covers other issues such as sex, contraception and menopause symptoms.
Looking after yourself
Get enough rest
This is important, as your body uses up a lot more energy when you’re coping with treatments or symptoms. Try to:
get a good night’s sleep - we have more information if you're having difficulty sleeping
ask family and friends to help out with household tasks, shopping, etc
save energy for the things you want to do and pace yourself (if you have a busy day rest the following day).
Our section on coping with fatigue has helpful tips on how to reduce tiredness.
Keep physically active
Keeping physically active can help you during and after treatment. Even regular short walks will help give you more energy and you’ll feel better. You can do it for a little longer and further each day. But listen to your body and be careful not to overdo it.
Being more physically active may improve symptoms such as tiredness, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. It also keeps your bones healthy and builds your muscle strength.
Looking after your bones is important if you have had an early menopause or are taking aromatase inhibitors. Both of these increase the risk of bone thinning.
We have more information about bone health.
Ask your cancer specialist, GP or specialist nurse for more information and advice.
You can read more our section on physical activity and cancer treatment.
Eating healthily will improve your general health and you’ll also feel better and have more energy. If you’ve put on weight with treatments it will also help you to manage your weight.
Try to eat:
five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
more chicken and fish (especially oily fish)
more high-fibre foods
less red and processed meat
less saturated fat (eg pastries, samosas, cakes, cheese)
Our section on eating well after cancer treatment has more information and our section on weight management and cancer has advice on keeping to a healthy weight.
Even if you haven’t got much of an appetite try to keep eating well by having regular snacks. There are also lots of different supplement drinks available (some on prescription) to help make sure you’re getting enough calories and nutrients. Ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to a dietitian if you need more advice.
We also have helpful tips on coping with eating difficulties.