Self-Care in Metastatic Breast Cancer


People living with metastatic breast cancer share highlights of their personal self-care strategies.

Shirley A. Mertz, MA, JD: None of us who have cancer can control our disease, though heaven knows I'd like to kick it in the pants and get rid of it. But I can't do that, other than follow my treatments of my doctors, but I can control my body. How I treat it, what goes into my mouth, all kinds of things. Sheila, again I'm going to bring up the retired Air Force senior master sergeant. I'm so impressed Sheila, God I am. Anyway, I'm sure you know something about maintaining a healthy body because you had to perform responsibilities where you could not be, I want to sleep in today. Again, thank you for your service to your country, but back to metastatic breast cancer. Did you find that you changed any aspects of your lifestyle to keep your body as strong as possible after your diagnosis with metastatic disease? Was there anything you started doing differently?

Sheila McGlown: Yeah exercise, I did more walking. I've just changed a little bit but not much because I guess my thought process was, I already got it so I might as well enjoy the little things that I enjoy. That was my thought process.

Shirley A. Mertz, MA, JD: Lisa, do you have anything to add along the lines of taking care of one's body?

Lisa Laudico: Yes, so I, soon as I was diagnosed and this maybe how I coped. It's like, give me a plan, let me start taking action where I can, because you feel very out of control with a diagnosis like this. And for me, control is around figuring out, getting all the bits and pieces in order. What I did is I'm at a national, I'm treated at an NCI, a National Cancer Institute Designated Facility by itself. It's a research facility in New York City, and I went to, I said OK I want to talk to all of these people, I just went type A all over my situation. And I talked to a nutritionist, right, at the place where I and I found out from them. I listed out, this is what I normally eat, this is what I normally do, what should I change? And the answer was similar to what Sheila received from her oncologist. You look good, looks fine, you don't need to change anything. I didn't but I had a, I would say a healthy lifestyle prior to my diagnosis. I'd never been in the hospital or sick a day in my life except to deliver children and I also was a pretty physically active person. What my oncologist has told me, who's a researcher and she's fantastic, she said, this is the number one thing that does have solid research and that is really exercise morning and night. It can be ten minutes and it gets your heart rate up a little bit and that helps metabolize the drugs and they, she loves telling this story. It's like, we put a bunch of mice on a treadmill, and we gave a few drugs, and this is, and they had cancer. They had cancer; they were cancer mice. And we put them on the treadmill and ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes at night or whatever. So as much as I can, I try to do that.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

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