A diagnosis of breast cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. While you and your family may be in shock after the initial diagnosis, remember that breast cancer is a disease that, if you catch the early symptoms and get treated right away, is very survivable. Surviving breast cancer is very possible, and knowledge of the stages and what comes after can prepare you to live after breast cancer.

A tumor that is less than 2cm in size with lymph nodes remaining unaffected is considered a stage one diagnosis. When diagnosed at this stage, after five years of observation, there is an almost 100% chance of survival. A stage two diagnosis survival rate (92% stage IIA, 81% IIB) is almost as good. After stage two the rates of survival decrease but are still favorable. Stage three breast cancer means that either the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or is a tumor greater than 5cm. This lowers the chance of survival to 49%-67%. A stage four diagnosis means the cancer has spread to other organs and this greatly lowers survival rates (around 20%). Advanced medical care and treatment are necessary during this stage.

After surviving breast cancer it is important to remain vigilant because relapse is possible. Survivor organizations can offer advice and reassurance to those who have survived breast cancer. Finding one in your local area can help you get comfortable with your new life after a bout with breast cancer.

Support groups are important for those who have lived through cancer. Being part of a group of peers who have experienced similar situations will give you the emotional support you need to keep living after breast cancer. No one has experienced exactly what you went through in your own treatment, but hearing other people’s stories may give you a new perspective on the possibilities of life after breast cancer. These groups also offer exercise and nutrition plans to keep yourself fit in your new life.

Those who make a change in their lifestyle are less likely to relapse than those who do not. Speaking with your doctor about lifestyle changes may increase your chances of staying in remission. Eating a well-balanced diet low in fat, getting regular exercise, and performing monthly self-examinations for lumps can keep you healthy and in remission.

Some survivors stay in remission for the rest of their lives, while others must battle the disease tooth and nail. It is necessary to remain vigilant, constantly checking for early signs of breast cancer, to insure the disease does not proceed into more complicated stages. Frequent self-exams and regular visits to the doctor are important steps for survivors to keep healthy. Many people find a new perspective on life after surviving traumatic diseases like breast cancer. In many ways, a new, post-breast cancer life may be more rewarding and filled with more happiness and enjoyment than before.

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