Women and experts from across the country are gathering in Philadelphia this weekend for a conference on living with metastatic breast cancer. Mental health will be one area of focus.
The prognosis for metastatic breast cancer is not good. Once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, bone, brain, lungs, or lymph nodes, fewer than one in four patients survive for more than five years.
The organization “Living Beyond Breast Cancer” is putting together the conference to help women cope with these terrifying odds.
Philadelphia psychologist Dr. Helen Coons says the constant anxiety over the state of the cancer — is it stable or has it progressed — is very difficult to live with. She will speak about the importance of learning to live in the face of uncertainty.
“I think staying just stuck in the worry robs women of who and what is important and what they value in the moment, and in the life they do have,” she said.
Coons advises women to discuss their feelings, to take the best possible care of their physical and mental health, and to be proactive about their futures, for example making a living will.