One in eight women will face the message sometime in their lives: "You have breast cancer." Thank God that is no longer a death sentence. But the disease often results in a long ordeal and treatment pathway that can lead to many unpredictable problems. The medical care is usually clarified quickly and is organized by doctors and hospital. But other difficulties of a familial, personal or even financial nature storm one. We talked to Doris Kiefhaber and Martina Lцwe, the managing directors of the Austrian Cancer Aid, about the most pressing problems and where to find help if needed. In addition, we researched information and products that help affected women and encourage them. Plus: Interview with the German doctor and hormone expert dr. Jochen Armbruster, who explains why too much estrogen is dangerous in the body.
First of all, the message of being sick with breast cancer is a huge shock: pictures of illness and death, feelings of fear and despair are the first reaction of most women, and almost nobody remembers this situation later, most of them only know Fragments, "says Doris Kiefhaber. "You understand you are ill and you know the diagnosis, but the details are not clear enough, it takes a while to realize that." This is exactly where cancer aid comes into play. The non-profit association has counseling centers in each state, offers education, psychological support and, if necessary, financial help. Information on where to find the nearest counseling center can be found on krebshilfe.net. The consultation is carried out exclusively by clinical psychologists and psycho-oncologists, it is free and anonymous. Also help to understand the diagnosis is offered. Martina Lцwe warns against googling information on her own on the Internet: "The information you find there is often untrusted and only partially credible, you can not judge it professionally and it usually gets even more unsettling." Krebshilfe therefore offers compactly summarized brochures on the most important topics for downloading on its website. Advice, addresses, offers, space for personal notes and more can also be found on the app KrebsHILFE. They are available for free download in the app stores of iOS and Android.
The most important concern of the cancer aid is the psychological support of the affected women. Medically, one is in a therapy track and is well looked after. As a result, one is so busy that the personal burden is often not immediately clear. But it is precisely the emotional level that needs appropriate attention. Problem for many sufferers: It is often difficult for both themselves and family members & friends to talk about the disease. "Everybody wants to behave in the best possible way, according to the textbook so to speak, but that's not the case in such a case," says Kiefhaber. Common consequence: Both patients and relatives do not respond to the situation at all. "Not addressed, unprocessed fears are extremely stressful, which can lead to depression and not only the affected women themselves are afraid to say the wrong, but also the partners and family members It is important to make it clear that this is quite normal . " The consultation of the cancer aid is therefore also available for relatives. These usually take up the offer quite quickly. Many of the patients, however, come only after the end of therapy. Because then, when the environment demands normality again, even though one did not even have time to process what has happened, many women fall into an emotional hole. Martina Lцwe therefore emphasizes: "The sooner the women come to us, the better, which helps to make the diagnosis easier to handle and not let certain fears out."
There is great uncertainty about the question: how do I explain it to my children? The experts here plead for maximum openness. "Many women try to protect their children, especially when they are small, but one should not hide such a serious illness: firstly, it is certainly not safe in the long run, and secondly, children have very fine antennas Parents' fear – if they do not know what's behind it, they're projecting it on them and believing it's their fault that Mama is doing badly, "Leo points out. The brochure "Mom / Dad Has Cancer" gives advice on how best to discuss the disease with the little ones.
A particularly important relationship issue is the sexuality of cancer. Misunderstandings and misinterpretation often occur here: Men no longer express their sexual desires because they fear that the woman might think that they are only interested in one. Conversely, the woman does not feel coveted by this. Again, the two experts advise to talk openly about everything with the partner. Whether there really is sex, every couple must decide for themselves.
As the cancer therapies are getting better and better tolerated, many women also want to work during therapy. An at least partial participation in everyday working life conveys a sense of normality. Unfortunately there is no legal regulation yet, but in agreement with employer and colleagues an individual agreement usually works very well. It becomes difficult when the person is well again: "After completing the therapy, there is a Nachsorgeloch.The employer expects normalcy again, but the women are often still overwhelmed with a full re-entry.Cancer therefore calls for a legal regime for part-time sickness," emphasize Kiefhaber and Leo. "It would be sensible to work only 30 percent in the first month, in the second 50 percent and only from the third full again." Health Minister Sabine Oberhauser supports this concern.
As so often, sickness is about money. Loss of earnings and unplanned expenses (contribution to costs for wigs, travel costs to therapies, prescription fees, etc.) can tear a big hole in the purse. The Cancer Aid therefore also offers financial support. The handling of the Pink Ribbon Instant Aid Fund is straightforward and the counselors are happy to help.