Patient Blogs | Breast Cancer
How I Deal With Managing Pain
photo of woman holding hands on bed at home

Having chronic pain during and after treatment can become part of your everyday existence. Not that you welcome it, by any means, but it’s there so often you can just learn to live with it so to speak. 

It can easily become something routine and to some, something they learn to live with. Talking to your doctor about options on how to bring relief into your life is the first step. There are many options out there that can help get you the relief that you need, which can include any of the following: a combination of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, topical ointments, massages, acupuncture, or others. 

I have neuropathy mostly in my hands, and the pain is worse in the mornings. This was a result of chemotherapy and has, unfortunately, lingered on. After all, being a type 1 diabetic can also bring on many side effects on its own. 

Taking additional medication was offered to me by my doctor, but I wanted to try a more natural approach. I didn’t want to add another pill to my already existing daily meds regimen, but this is a completely personal choice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having to take medication if needed!

I did try a few things that included massages, acupuncture, and topical over-the-counter ointments. On cold weather days, it’s particularly bad and I’ve found that applying heat does help ease the pain but It doesn’t go away completely. 

It’s also impossible for me to open bottles or really carry anything weighing more than a couple of pounds. Physical therapy has helped me so much to regain movement after surgeries. I had a lot of pain with upper body movement and reach. I was unable to raise my arms and had something called “frozen shoulder.” It took several months of physical therapy for me. In the beginning, it was extremely painful, but it did help me tremendously, and I’ve regained my reach and movement. During physical therapy, I did receive massages and acupuncture as well, because why not?!

One thing that really helped me during and after treatment has been joining breast cancer communities online. These types of communities are meant to be safe spaces where survivors share their experiences. I have found them to be a very important part of my healing and recovery process. 

Hearing options others have been offered by their medical providers or what has worked for them has been essential for me. Make sure to receive clearance from your doctor(s) before trying anything to make sure it does not interfere with any medication or treatments you are on.  

Part of pain management is also mental wellness. Your mental wellness is extremely important as it can affect your energy levels and perhaps even your pain level to a certain extent. Make sure to discuss this with your doctor as part of your care. Finding the right care can be a combination of options, it does not have to be a one-way street. 

Please don’t give up hope. Work with your doctors and care team to find something that brings some relief to you! If you are having trouble communicating with your doctors, ask if they have an online portal or off-hours telephone number where you can obtain help or guidance. 



To connect with other breast cancer survivors, join our Breast Cancer Facebook Support Group


Photo Credit: Ol'ga Efimova / EyeEm via Getty Images

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Melina Williams

Melina Williams

Diagnosed since 2018

Melina Williams was diagnosed in 2018 at the age of 32 with stage III, grade 3, HR+, PR+, HER2- breast cancer with no family history or genetic markers. Due to the aggressive cancer treatment, Williams lost function of her pancreas and her adrenal glands and now lives with type 1 diabetes and adrenal insufficiency. Originally from San Diego and now enjoying the Midwest with her husband and their four dogs, Williams works as an investigative professional. In her free time, she volunteers for breast cancer organizations such as the Young Survival Coalition (YSC Indy Face 2 Face) and as a treasurer for the Young Breast Cancer Project. Williams shares her health journey, pet photos, and more on Instagram. She’s passionate about giving back to the breast cancer community and hopes to inspire others with her journey.

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