Breast Cancer: Surprising Things That Can Help During and After Treatment

  • Reviewed By: Jennifer Robinson, MD
Reviewed on 3/16/2020


Acupuncture may help boost your immune system and release natural painkillers.

In this ancient practice, very thin needles are put on points of your body. Research shows it boosts your immune system and releases natural painkillers. It may also curb side effects of cancer treatment like nausea, pain, fatigue, and anxiety.

But don't skip doctor visits because you're getting acupuncture. In fact, make sure your doctor knows you're thinking about it before you try it. There can be side effects and in some cases, acupuncture isn't recommended.


Lymph drainage massage may help decrease swelling after surgery.

Some hospitals have massage therapists on staff. Massage can lessen pain. It can also help you relax before a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or breast reconstruction. After surgery, a specialized massage given by a specially trained therapist may help lessen swelling. Talk with your doctor about it. They may mention "lymph drainage techniques." If so, that's what they're talking about.


Yoga can help you feel less tired and stressed.

This form of exercise helps connect breath to movement. It slows your heart rate, blood pressure, and brain waves. Women who take yoga classes while having radiation for breast cancer say they feel less tired and stressed. If you can do it regularly, yoga may also lessen inflammation. Make sure to share your medical history with your instructor so they’ll know best how to help you.

Tai Chi

Practicing tai chi regularly may help lessen inflammation in people with breast cancer.

This age-old Chinese martial art combines slow, graceful body movements with breathing and meditation. Relaxing the mind this way may help strengthen the body. Tai chi may lessen inflammation in people with breast cancer. Women who practice tai chi for an hour, 3 three times a week also feel better about their health and their lives.

Art Therapy

Art therapy can ease anxiety and depression and help your self esteem.

You don't need to be a good artist to reap the benefits of art therapy. When you draw, paint, sculpt or craft, it gives you a chance to express fears and other feelings you may not want to talk about. Working with a trained art therapist can help you feel better about your treatment. It's also been shown to ease anxiety and depression. It can also help your self-esteem.


Get a makeover if it will help you feel better about your appearance.

Side effects like hair loss and skin problems hit many women hard. Some people in treatment don't like to leave their house because they don't like how they look. When you feel better about your appearance, it can improve your quality of life and help you stay strong. Find a program in your area that will fit you for a wig, give you a makeover, or give you a bra for your new shape. Some are free.

Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy can help you feel less stressed and more in touch with your emotions.

Horses are natural therapists. And since they mirror the body language of people around them, horses can help you become more aware of your feelings. Learning to care for and ride a horse builds confidence. In one small study, people who participated in therapy with horses felt less stress. We're not really sure why, but it could be worth a try.

Music Therapy

Sessions with a music therapist may help decrease pain levels.

Listening to your favorite tunes has probably helped you get over a breakup or power through a workout. This ability to connect you to your feelings is why music can also help during treatment. Studies show a program with a trained music therapist can drop pain levels, improve state of mind, and reduce worry for people with breast cancer. Ask your doctor to recommend one.

Write About It

Writing about your fears can help you feel fewer physical symptoms.

If you write down your feelings about breast cancer, from your hopes to your biggest fears, you may notice fewer physical symptoms. Writing in a journal can also boost your mood and help you see the progress you're making. Don't worry about spelling or handwriting. Just let go and focus on your thoughts and goals.

Support Groups

Joining a support group may help you feel less alone.

No matter how much care you get from friends and family, a support group may also help. Time with other women who are going through the same thing can help you feel less alone. You may talk more about your problems since other group members know what you're dealing with. You can also ask for advice, like what to expect during different stages of treatment or how to handle side effects.

Breast Cancer: Surprising Things That Can Help During and After Treatment

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