4 Things I Did After My Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Caitlin with no hair after 6 months of chemo for stage 3 breast cancer

4 Things I Did After My Breast Cancer Diagnosis


Empowering You on Your Breast Cancer Journey

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a life-changing experience, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and helpless at times.

However, I want to assure you that there are many factors you can control and empower yourself with in the process.

Having gone through six months of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation, and a double mastectomy (including 16 lymph nodes), I want to share some insights that helped me regain control, find hope, and start healing.

Besides working with your oncology team, let’s explore four essential aspects that you can start focusing on right now: improving your diet, nurturing your emotional well-being, connecting to your spirituality, and staying active.

Improving Your Diet

I thought I ate a pretty healthy diet prior to my breast cancer diagnosis — but it turns out there was still room for improvement!

One of the biggest changes I made to what I eat is getting more fiber from fiber-rich foods.

Eating a diet rich in fiber can have a positive impact on your overall health and breast cancer treatment recovery. Fiber aids in digestion, helps control blood sugar levels, and can even reduce the risk of other types of cancer.

Here are some healthy foods high in fiber to incorporate into your diet:

  • Legumes such as soy, lentils, chickpeas, and black beans
  • Whole grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice
  • Fresh fruits like blueberries, pears, and pineapple
  • Vegetables, especially broccoli, spinach, broccoli sprouts, and Brussels sprouts
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, chia seeds, and ground flaxseeds

I aim for about 50-70 grams of fiber per day. This is above the recommended amount and definitely above the average fiber intake of most adults. Studies show most adults only get about 15 grams per day, which is about half the recommendation for daily fiber intake.

See what you can do to increase your fiber slowly. Getting too much fiber all at once, when you’re not consuming much to start with, can lead to bloating and feeling uncomfortable. Start slowly and increase a bit each day.

Nurturing Your Emotional Well-Being

Emotions play a significant role in your healing process. It’s essential to identify negative emotions and release them.

One way to do this is by evaluating your relationships and surrounding yourself with a support system that uplifts you. My friends and family were one of my life-lines during my breast cancer treatment and recovery. They brought food, sent encouraging texts and visited (when I felt up to seeing visitors.)

Knowing that someone out there was thinking of me, praying for me, or going out of their way to do something nice for me — that was PRICELESS! and so healing….

On the other side of the coin, try to distance yourself from unhealthy relationships and create boundaries to protect your emotional well-being. Your mental health is vital while you heal from breast cancer so do all you can to keep that in tiptop shape.

Make an appointment with a therapist if you need to — there are even apps to help you do that like BetterHelp.

Also, limit exposure to negative news sources and social media that may cause unnecessary stress. Instead, surround yourself with calming activities like reading, soothing instrumental music, or funny pet videos.

Connecting to Your Spirituality

During my breast cancer treatment and healing, I craved deepening my own spirituality. I talked with one of the priests at my church numerous times, I read books on spirituality, started praying more often, practiced daily meditation, listened to uplifting podcasts, and used the app Hallow, on a daily basis.

In fact, I still do all of these things!

However you define your own spirituality, it can provide strength and comfort during challenging times. Here are some ideas to help you connect to your own source of spiritual healing:

  • Meditation: Find a quiet space, close your eyes, and focus on your in and out breath for 3 minutes (or longer). Meditation can help you find inner peace and clarity. There are many helpful meditation apps like 10 Percent Happier and Headspace.
  • Prayer: Regardless of your religious beliefs, prayer can be a powerful tool for connecting with your spirituality. It can be as simple as expressing gratitude or seeking guidance.
  • Journaling: Keep a journal to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This can help you gain insight into your journey and foster a sense of spiritual connection.

Pick one thing to help you feel more connected to your spiritual side — even if it’s one minute of silent meditation or prayer. Just this one small action will help decrease your cortisol and help your body start healing.

Staying Active

Daily physical activity is crucial for boosting your energy levels and reducing the risk of cancer recurrence.

Aim for at least 20 minutes of daily activity, which can include:

  • Walking: A brisk walk in fresh air relaxing and invigorating. And best of all, it’s free!
  • Yoga: Yoga promotes flexibility, balance, and relaxation. Look for beginner-friendly online classes or local studios. This helps move lymph through your body so it is less likely to pool in your arms, causing lymphedema, a common symptom after breast cancer surgery.
  • Body Weight Exercises: Simple exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups can be done at home and require no special equipment. This helps to increase lean muscle mass, something you want to do on a daily basis as we tend to lose muscle mass as we age.

Taking Back Control Over Your Health

While a breast cancer diagnosis can make you feel powerless, remember that there are many things within your control that can contribute to your healing journey.

By improving your diet, nurturing your emotional well-being, connecting to your spirituality, and staying active, you will empower yourself to face your diagnosis with resilience and hope.

You are not alone on this path, and there is strength within you that you can tap into, even if you need some help doing that.

Remember to ask for help!

Also, be sure to get a copy of my eBook, “Beyond the Diagnosis: Your Guide to Thrive After Breast Cancer.” It contains lots of information to help you feel more empowered.

Embrace the path you’re on with a few positive changes, and you’ll find the power to thrive on your breast cancer journey.


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4 Responses to "4 Things I Did After My Breast Cancer Diagnosis"
  1. Amazing write-up Caitlin! I have done some of these same things in dealing with my own cancer. Love you precious daughter!

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