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Overcoming the Fear of Breast Cancer

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If you're scared that you will one day hear the words, "You have breast cancer," you've got plenty of company. Breast cancer is the most feared cancer among women. Sometimes, it's not just the word "cancer" that's at the root of the fear, but dread of issues associated with treating cancer, such as surgical complications and medication side effects. Perhaps you've been through a breast cancer diagnosis with someone close to you and know how difficult it can be.

While these are understandable fears, the danger is that some women are so overwhelmed with anxiety that they postpone screenings, such as breast exams and mammograms, or even skip them altogether for fear of bad news. Yet these are the very examinations that can help save lives by finding cancer early on, when it's most treatable.

Women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer face a different set of fears as they go through various stages of anxiety and acceptance. Many are in a state of denial at first. This can quickly turn to anger and a feeling that their world has been turned upside down. Some women wonder what they have done to deserve this and are unsure about the best road to recovery. Eventually, reality sets in and treatment begins, which is when many women feel better and more in control of their disease because they are actively fighting it.

Those who survive breast cancer struggle with the fear that their cancer might return. Every post-treatment checkup, mammogram and blood test is anxiety-ridden as she awaits the results.

The lowdown…don't let breast cancer blindside you

The reality is that as you age, your risk for developing breast cancer increases. Most of us know women who have battled breast cancer. Advances in methods of detection and treatments have transformed breast cancer from what had been considered a dreaded disease—what some perceived as a death sentence—to one that most women can and do beat. In fact, when breast cancer is found at its earliest, most treatable stage, a majority of women (98 percent) will go on to live full, healthy lives after treatment. So, it's important to keep up with recommended screenings and exams.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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