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A photo of Rebekah wearing a patterned head band

I took comfort in eating during treatment

Rebekah felt as though food became a comfort during her breast cancer treatment. She shares her top 5 tips for losing weight healthily.

I couldn't process what I was going through

I noticed a painful lump in my left breast, which felt like it might be growing. Although I thought it could be a cyst, I decided to get it checked by my doctor. In February 2016, I was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer. My treatment included , a , and .

When I was diagnosed my first thoughts were, ‘Wow!’ and ‘Really?’ I felt like the experience was happening outside of me. I couldn’t engage with any of the support services available because I was in shock. I didn’t process my feelings, or the gravity of what was happening, until much later.

I'd also just lost my dad, so I kept thinking about how he wasn't going to be there with me to get through it. I was still grieving that loss.

I kept trying to make my diagnosis feel real

I kept telling people about my diagnosis to make it feel more real. I reached out to friends who had some understanding of what was happening to me. They were so supportive. Speaking to them made me feel like I was doing something productive to help myself.

 

A photo of Rebekah with no hair

I felt like I was in limbo after treatment

I remember feeling relieved on the day I got my last Herceptin injection. For me, that drew the line for the end of active treatment. I was so happy that I hugged my nurse who I had a positive relationship with. We chatted about everything together, she was just wonderful.

But I also felt lost after treatment. I thought, ‘What do I do now?’ I felt like I was in limbo because I still had my reconstruction surgery to go.

I made self-care a priority after treatment

In the last year I've started to be honest about how I felt after my diagnosis. During my treatment, I lost my sister and it was like our family fell apart from the grief.

I also experienced fatigue when I returned to work, so self-care became important to me. My workplace had counselling available, so I took them up on that. It helped me realise I couldn’t take on problems that weren’t mine.

I started comfort eating after my diagnosis

Before I was diagnosed, I was so fit and strong, I felt like an Amazon! But without my normal energy levels, I couldn’t cook like I used to and went for convenient options. During treatment, the steroids caused me to put on weight, and I also started to overeat, as eating was an accessible comfort. I put on around three stone after my diagnosis.

Rebekah leaning against a big rock while on a walk

I forgot to listen to my body

Instead of expressing my emotions after my diagnosis, I ate them! I ate a lot of rubbish and because I felt sluggish, I stopped doing exercise.

When I was waiting for my reconstruction and after surgery, I felt frustrated with what I could do physically. If I couldn’t exercise to the level I wanted, then I didn’t exercise at all! It became an ‘all or nothing’ situation.

I’ve lost over one stone                      

I've still got a little way to go, but I’ve gradually lost over one stone. Some people have told me I should just appreciate I’m alive and not worry about my weight gain. But I don't think they realise how gaining weight after treatment can get you down when you know you’re not making the best of yourself.

Rebekah's top 5 tips for losing weight healthily

1. Try positive self-talk

Positive self-talk is so important when you’re starting out with weight loss. I used to meditate on what I couldn’t do and that can be immobilising.

I started to focus on small things I could do and told myself I was worth it. That I was worth having a positive and strong body. This helped get my mind back to a positive place.

2. Buddy up with friends or family

If you’ve got a friend who wants to lose weight healthily too, sharing a goal can be motivating. I had friends who would encourage me to go for walks in parks I’d not normally consider working out in. My daughters also bought me a fitness tracker so I could measure my progress.

3. Listen to your body

After my mastectomy, I was advised to do light walking. Once I began exercising, I had to listen to my body, especially when I wanted to increase the amount I was doing. I had to recognise my limits.

4. Be imaginative with food

I’ve become imaginative with food again and it reminded me how much I love cooking. I cook in bulk, so I have a few days of healthy food. Even though I’m returning to how I used to eat, I recognise when I’m extremely tired and can’t manage cooking – it’s OK to have an off day.

5. Share your story with others 

Try connecting with a social group on Facebook or another online forum. It's an amazing thing to be able to share your journey with other people, and you can back each other up.

Staying healthy

There are plenty of benefits to exercising and staying physically active if you've had breast cancer treatment. Read our advice on building healthy habits.

Physical activity and exercise

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