a person twirling to represent movement through breast cancer diagnosis with the text "Breast Cancer: four ways to move through your diagnosis" is overlaid on the image

Breast Cancer: Four Ways to Move Through Your Diagnosis

If you are a woman with breast cancer, the notion of body betrayal can be all too real. The self you once knew and felt comfortable with now looks and acts different. It’s difficult – the sense that your own body is under attack and feeling unwell. All of this ties into body image and can be challenging to navigate alone.

And that’s just it. Sometimes it feels like you are all alone. You might wonder why nobody mentioned you and your sense of self would suddenly become unrecognizable. Each woman’s experience is unique, and there are just some situations that require a woman to walk alone. One of the most challenging aspects of breast cancer is the individual nature of diagnosis and treatment. Yet those living with breast cancer can find commonality in the experience of change.

After active treatment is over, it’s normal for women to feel like everything is different. Hair loss, skin changes, and menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness are just a few of the many ways that breast cancer treatment can impact the body. It can be overwhelming to deal with the rapid nature of these changes and to accept the results.

The word “acceptance” can be a trigger for many women, but it’s important to remember that acceptance doesn’t mean approval. It’s about acknowledging what has happened and finding a way to move forward in a new way.

It can be helpful to connect with others who have gone through similar changes and to know that even if it feels like it, you’re not alone. One way to do that is through movement.

Movement is…a powerful tool in finding acceptance for your body during and after treatment.

Movement is…an expression of life, in particular, the integration of mind and body (Silva da Costa).

Movement is…the first line of defense that can help to prevent a secondary occurrence of breast cancer and improve overall physical health.

There are four types of movement that can be of benefit to women who have received a breast cancer diagnosis:

  1. Aerobic exercise can improve cardiovascular health and help with weight management.
  2. Strength training can help prevent bone loss and improve muscle strength.
  3. Flexibility exercises can improve range of motion and reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Balance training can help prevent falls and improve overall mobility.

Yoga, dance, and other forms of movement can be a fun and uplifting way to get active and celebrate how the body works even though it might not work the same. It’s important to start slowly and to listen to your body. Working with a physical therapist or trainer who specializes in the care of cancer survivors can also be helpful.

Body image can be a complicated mindset to work through. Studies show movement increases positive outcomes in women with a breast cancer diagnosis (Cannioto). Movement can be a path towards healing and self-acceptance. It is one treatment strategy that is totally within your control.


Please contact Dr. Laura James ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions during your breast cancer treatment. If you live in the Bellingham, Washington area and would like to learn more about a naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call 360-738-3230 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.



Cannioto, Rikki A et al. “Physical Activity Before, During, and After Chemotherapy for High-Risk Breast Cancer: Relationships With Survival.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute vol. 113,1 (2021): 54-63. doi:10.1093/jnci/djaa046

Silva da Costa, Natália et al. “Effects of dance therapy in women with breast cancer: A systematic review protocol.” PloS one vol. 17,6 e0257948. 24 Jun. 2022, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0257948


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