What to Eat During/After Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, come with a variety of symptoms that are unique to each patient. One of the most significant changes you may notice is a sudden change in appetite, whether it be due to stress, treatment, or anxiety. 

Despite changes in your daily routine, it is best to maintain a well-balanced diet during breast cancer treatment and the months following recovery. If you are unsure of how to best care for yourself during this time, we are always here to help you. 

Additionally, you can use this guide as a resource for what to eat during and after your Breast Cancer treatment.

Treatment Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Sore Mouth
  • Taste Changes
  • Constipation
  • Decreased Appetite

General Tips

  • Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time for when you’re ready to eat later
  • Supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals
  • Discuss your diet with a licensed nutritionist or dietitian

Foods to Eat During Treatment

It is crucial to fuel your body with foods that offer the most nutrients while you undergo aggressive treatment and move towards recovery. 

These include:

  • Fresh Fruit 
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean Protein

What to Avoid During Treatment

Some women who undergo treatment should avoid certain foods entirely. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Sugary Drinks
  • Processed or Red Meat
  • Raw or Undercooked Foods

Eating During Chemotherapy

Reactions to chemotherapy may vary, but many people report struggling with appetite or taste changes. To ensure a healthy diet:

  • Eat five to six small meals per day
  • Incorporate liquid meals such as pureed soups, milkshakes, smoothies, or juices
  • Increase physical activity (with the consent from your doctor)
  • Limit liquid intake before meals

As your treatment does its job and takes an inevitable toll on your body, do not be afraid to accept help from friends and family. You may need assistance with grocery shopping and meal planning as your body fights fatigue. This will help you maintain a stable diet and get back to your daily routine. If you need more tips or support during your treatment, please reach out to your referring physician.

The COVID-19 Vaccine and Mammograms

While the correlation between receiving a mammogram and the COVID-19 vaccine is still being studied, we’ve gathered important information that women should currently be aware of. If you are considered high-risk or are above 40 years old, please continue reading for the recommendations for having a mammogram post-vaccination. 


Expect Swelling

Lymph node swelling is a common sign experienced by women post-vaccine. This may be misinterpreted as possible cancerous lumps, however, it is usually nothing but an immune response. Breast radiologist, Christine Edmonds, MD, explains that swelling is an “immunogenic reaction” as the vaccine commonly enters the body near the armpit region. 


When to Schedule a Mammogram

Because of the expected swelling of axillary lymph nodes, most women are urged to schedule their mammography screening before their COVID-19 vaccine or at least 4-6 weeks after to allow swelling to subside. However, if you are experiencing concerning symptoms or are considered high-risk, proceed with your vaccine and screening as planned and always discuss treatment plans and options with your healthcare provider.


Communicate With Your Tech

When communicating with your radiology practice, include information regarding your COVID-19 vaccine history. Request that your doctor add this information, such as the date you received it, and in which arm, to your records as it will increase accuracy for your next mammogram. 

Most importantly, do not delay your mammogram further than necessary. Many women have postponed their screenings due to the pandemic, which can make early detection more difficult to achieve. If it has been over one year since your last mammogram, please schedule an appointment at Little Silver Mammography today.

What to Expect From Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, a treatment most often used to treat cancer, utilizes powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in the body. A wide variation of chemotherapy drugs exist that can be used on its own or  in tandem with other medications. Chemotherapy can be used to ease symptoms, prepare you for other treatments, or kill hidden cancer cells. While chemotherapy may sound daunting, we’ve compiled useful information that will best prepare you for any upcoming treatments.


How does chemotherapy work?

Unlike radiation or surgery, chemotherapy works throughout the entire body. Known as a systematic treatment, it targets cells that grow and divide rapidly. Chemo circulates throughout the body’s bloodstream and has a powerful effect on cancer cells. With the strength of these chemicals, it is common for healthy cells such as hair, skin, and nail cells to be affected. 


Side Effects

With a powerful treatment like chemotherapy, many side effects may occur. The most common include fatigue, hair loss, nausea and appetite changes. Many of these will subside rapidly, however, some may take months or even years to go away. Taking advantage of your cancer care team and discussing medicine or treatment schedules may help ease any fears you have about chemo side effects.


Precautions After Treatment

It is crucial to be proactive in keeping yourself and your loved ones safe post-treatment. There is a 48-72 hour window where your body breaks down these chemicals, which can cause concern for individuals who are exposed to them. Some helpful precautions to take are: having children use different toilets than the one you use, having your caregiver wear two pairs of throwaway gloves when coming in contact with body fluids, and using a washing machine rather than hand washing to properly sanitize your clothes. 

Chemotherapy might take a toll on your mental and physical health. During this time, do not hesitate to lean on your caregivers and doctors for support. Taking advantage of your support system and implementing sanitary precautions will ensure this process will be as smooth and safe as possible. 

Be sure to discuss any side effects or reactions to treatments with your healthcare providers.

How to Support a Loved One With Cancer

For individuals living with cancer, having a strong support system is crucial to their journey. A cancer diagnosis often comes as a surprise and shifts the roles we’ve grown accustomed to. As you face this new challenge, the ability to empathize with your loved one’s new diagnosis, fears or concerns and adjustments will create a safe and supportive environment. We’ve put together a list of the top four ways you can help a loved one cope with this change. 


Lend a Helping Hand

Despite the severity of the disease and coping with cancer related side effects, life for the person struggling still goes on; recognize that they may need a little extra help. Priorities will shift and some may even need to be put on the back burner. Don’t wait for your loved one to ask for help, as they may feel embarrassed or bothersome reaching out. Any act of kindness, no matter how small, is often deeply appreciated. In lending a hand, be mindful of how you offer help, listen to the other person’s needs and offer to do what you can.


Accompany Them to Appointments 

Hospitals and clinics may be perceived as frightening to recently diagnosed patients and being in the waiting room alone may increase anxiety. Offer to attend appointments with your loved one, it can help alleviate unneeded stress and help the person feel cared for. Either way, always be respectful of your loved one’s decision, if they chose to go alone, respect their privacy. If you’re asked to attend, be sure to actively listen and ask questions when appropriate, but allow your loved one to make their own decisions.

Be sure to call any appointment facilities ahead of time to see if there are any new restrictions due to COVID – 19 and if a companion is allowed to accompany the patient to the appointment. Bring masks and hand sanitizer for extra protection from accidental exposure. 

Pro tip: Help your loved one remember any important documents they may need. For example, medical documents, scans or tests, identification and insurance documents are often needed.


Humor will Lighten the Mood 

Laughter is often the best form of medicine. It can be challenging dealing with the various emotions that follow a cancer diagnosis and its subsequent treatment. More often than not, this disease brings a cloud of grief and sadness. While it is important to be sensitive to your loved one’s need to express grief, be ready to laugh and smile through the journey as well.


Respect Their Need to Be Alone

Following a cancer diagnosis, family and friends often feel the need to shower their loved one with attention and affection. However, it may be overwhelming for them to expend their energy and be present during all of these moments. Be mindful of your loved one’s schedule and their level of sociability. It is okay to kindly let others know when your loved one appears fatigued and encourage them to come another time. 

Knowing how to support a loved one through cancer may seem like a daunting challenge. In these moments, it can be difficult to know the right things to say and do. There is a learning curve for both you and your loved one, however, just your presence and willingness to offer support will mean the world to them.

Breast Cancer’s Link to Ovarian Cancer

The genetic predisposition that affects many women with Breast cancer can also leave them at heightened risk for developing Ovarian cancer. Since Breast cancer awareness has taken off, women have become much more concerned with breast health and monitoring potential symptoms, however, ovarian health has yet to see the same response. This is possibly due to breast cancer being much more common and easier to detect, which typically prompts physicians or OB-GYNs to jump into action quickly. Many women won’t even know that they are also predisposed to Ovarian cancer if Breast cancer runs in their family, despite the fact it is a much more deadly disease.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes

Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes, which are involved in DNA repair and growth, can result in Breast and/or Ovarian cancer. These mutations put both the woman and her future offspring at greater risk for developing these cancers. To put this in perspective, approximately 12% of all women will  develop breast cancer in their lifetimes; 55-65% of women with the BRCA1 mutation will be develop breast cancer in their lifetimes; and approximately 45% of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. (NBCF)

Checking for Ovarian Cancer

If women are aware of ovarian cancer within their family history, a blood test may be recommended to detect a potential genetic predisposition to the disease. If needed, your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam in which they will look for symptoms such as enlarged ovaries or fluid in the abdomen (ascites). If any sign of cancer is suspected, additional blood work and various forms of imaging tests are often ordered. A gynecologic oncologist can determine if a mass is present through these tests, but a definitive diagnosis of ovarian cancer can only be determined once a pathologic sample is obtained, typically by means of surgery.

If you would like more information on breast health or our available imaging exams, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to discuss any of your questions or concerns.

Recovering From A Mastectomy

Mastectomy is a treatment option in which the entire breast is removed in order to prevent breast cancer recurrence or as a preventative measure in high risk individuals. Many women choose mastectomy as part of their healing journey. Recovery for everyone may look different depending on the type of mastectomy performed and due to the fact that everyone responds differently to surgery. Continue reading for a summary of typical experiences. 

Surgery Recovery
Following mastectomy surgery, your vitals will be monitored by hospital staff. It is important to let your doctor or nurses know if you begin to experience symptoms, such as nausea or headache, as you may require medication post-anesthesia. Once you are admitted to a room, the average stay is 3 days or less, unless you have undergone reconstruction at the same time.

At-Home Recovery 

It may take a few weeks to fully recover from a mastectomy or possibly longer if you’ve opted for reconstruction. Follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions closely. Some general guidelines include:

Listen to Your Doctor
It’s important to always follow the advice of your healthcare provider and if you have any questions or concerns post-surgery to let them know immediately.

Post-surgery, your body will feel quite fatigued from the experience. It is important to get enough rest, which will be significantly more than your body normally requires, in the first few weeks after your procedure. Refrain from any physical labor around the house, despite how minimal it may seem.

Pain Medication
You can expect slight pain or numbness in the chest where the breast incision took place. If needed, take pain medication in accordance with your specific guidelines.

An important part of recovery is doing arm exercises each day in order to keep it limber. Continuing an arm routine on a regular basis after recovery will prevent stiffness and retain flexibility.

Lifestyle Changes
Recovery from a mastectomy, like any major surgery, will take time. Listen to your body and slowly get back into a routine that works for you. You will need help with meals, home care, and tending to basic needs. Be sure to ask for help if you need it. 

Gradually, your body will adjust to the surgery. In the months following a mastectomy, you may experience phantom pain or sensations as nerves regrow. The discomfort may diminish, however, your body will learn to adapt to it. Follow up with your doctor as needed and call Little Silver Mammography if you are in need of our assistance.

What Are Fibrocystic Breasts

Fibrocystic breasts are composed of thick or lumpy tissue that may change the texture of the breast. The breast tissue may feel scar-like, firm, or rubbery and be noticeable through the skin. While this may sound frightening, it is actually quite common, with more than half of women experiencing fibrocystic changes in their lifetime.



While many women with fibrocystic breasts do not notice any changes, some of the symptoms may include: 

  • Lumps or areas of thickening in the breast 
  • Breast tenderness
  • Green/brown nipple discharge
  • Similar changes in both breasts
  • Breast pain or lumps that fluctuate with your period



While there is not a cure for fibrocystic breasts, there are many ways to manage the unpleasant symptoms many women face. Work with your doctor to customize a treatment plan that is right for your body and lifestyle. An over-the-counter anti-inflammatory may be suggested to relieve short-term swelling and pain. Your doctor may also prescribe a low-estrogen birth control or a progesterone treatment to regulate your hormones. If you opt for any at-home remedies or supplements, be sure to discuss them with your doctor before adding them into your routine.


Risk Factors

In general, fibrocystic breasts are not considered harmful for women. The risk of developing breast cancer is not increased by fibrocystic changes in the breasts. However, they can make it more difficult to detect developing lumps or other cancer symptoms. This is why it is crucial to self-examine your breasts monthly in order to understand what is a normal baseline for you. 

If you notice an unusual change in one or both of your breasts, notify your doctor right away. They will conduct a routine breast exam in order to rule out possible breast conditions. If more information is needed about a lump or breast tissue, a mammogram is usually recommended. If you have any concerns, please feel free to give Little Silver Mammography & HerSpace a call (732-741-9595) to schedule an appointment.

Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer

Forms of breast cancer that are hormone-receptor-positive require hormonal therapy to reduce the risk of further development or recurrence. Hormone therapy is most often used after surgery, but can be advised at any stage of cancer or treatment. There are several different hormonal therapy medications, and the right one will depend on your unique situation and history.  


Types of Hormonal Therapy Medications


Aromatase Inhibitors

Medications that stop estrogen production after menopause.

  • Arimidex
  • Aromasin 
  • Femara 


Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)

Medications that block hormones from attaching to cancer cells.

  • Tamoxifen
  • Evista
  • Fareston 


Selective Estrogen Receptor Degrader (ERDs)

Medication that blocks and damages estrogen receptors.

  • Faslodex


Which Medication Is Right For Me?

Your doctor’s recommendation will be based on the following factors:

  • breast cancer stage
  • menopausal status
  • bone density
  • arthritis history (if any)
  • risk of ovarian cancer
  • previous side effects to hormonal therapy


Side Effects

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal discharge or irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle/joint pain

Managing Breast Cancer Treatment

If you are diagnosed with Breast Cancer, there are many treatment options available to you such as surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Because these treatments are strong enough to fight off and kill cancerous cells, they will likely cause different side effects throughout the body. These side effects may last for the duration of treatment or years after you’ve stopped. Continue reading for some of the most common side of effects of Breast Cancer treatment and how to manage them.


Hair Loss

Chemo and radiation therapies are well known to cause hair thinning or loss. This can be an emotional chapter of your breast cancer journey as many women associate their hair as part of their identity. While it is a discouraging side effect of breast cancer treatment, there are many ways to prepare and get through it. Consider cutting or shaving your hair before you begin to notice major signs of hair loss. It is easier to hide bald or thinning spots with shorter hairstyles and the transition will be less shocking. Utilize your fashion sense to express yourself through a head covering of your choice. There are plenty of styles of wigs, hats, and scarves that will complete your outfit and make you feel stylish and confident. Some insurance plans may even provide coverage for wigs, given a doctor’s prescription. Note that if you do leave the house with an exposed scalp, you will need to wear sunscreen to protect it while you’re outside at all times.



Breast Cancer and its subsequent treatments can cause mild to severe pain in different parts of the body, such as your back, bones, chest, and joints. Keep a pain diary to track the details of the severity, location, and duration of your pain, so you can talk with your medical team when the time comes. As a group, you can create an effective plan for short or long-term pain management. This may include over-the-counter medications, pain prescriptions, or alternative medicine such as acupuncture, physical therapy, massage and/or meditation. 



Up to 1 in 4 cancer patients experience depression at some point of their battle with the disease. The emotional distress of a breast cancer diagnosis, paired with the pain and fatigue of treatment may exacerbate the symptoms of depression in women. Patients may notice it is harder to focus or remember things, a symptom known as brain fog. It is important to try to complete one action at a time and maintain a daily routine. Do not feel discouraged if activities begin to take you longer than normal, your body is fighting, remember to be kind to it and yourself during this time. If you’ve been feeling down for a prolonged period of time, you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor. They may feel it is necessary to prescribe you with antidepressants and refer you to a therapist if your condition has progressed. Other steps you can take to combat depression are staying connected with close family and friends, joining a cancer support group, or exercising for at least 30 minutes a day.


If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, be sure to share them with your doctor. Side effects are not life sentences, and there are many medications and therapies available to ease your discomfort.

Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

Learning you have been diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant can be surprising, scary, and stressful. Because of changes to a woman’s body during pregnancy, detecting breast cancer can be complicated. Thickening of the breasts makes it harder to spot smaller lumps, resulting in diagnosis only after the disease has already progressed. Because of this, it is extra important to keep up with breast exams throughout pregnancy. Any changes to the breasts or suspicious symptoms should be discussed with a doctor. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer during your pregnancy, you may be worried about which treatment options are best for you and your baby. Be sure to communicate carefully with your healthcare team, as well as your family, to ensure you make the correct decision for you.


Is Breast Cancer Treatment Safe During Pregnancy?

It is generally safe for pregnant women to seek treatment for breast cancer, however, some types of treatment may need to be delayed until after the pregnancy. For example, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy are all known to be harmful to the baby. While chemotherapy is safe for both mother and child during the second and third trimesters, it is not recommended during the first trimester. If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer early on into her pregnancy and requires chemotherapy, it may be recommended to end the pregnancy in order to have the best survival chances for the mother. In the unfortunate event that the best interests of the mother and baby conflict, a counselor or therapist should be part of the patient’s healthcare team to manage the emotional stress of the family. Undergoing surgery, such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy, while pregnant is generally considered safe, but specific treatment recommendations will depend on:

  • Size and location of the tumor
  • Metastatic tumors
  • Patient’s gestational age
  • Patient’s overall health


Does Pregnancy Affect Breast Cancer Survival Rate?

While pregnancy can make it difficult to detect and treat breast cancer, most studies have shown it does not make a difference in the outcome. In the case of more advanced breast cancers, some doctors believe that ending the pregnancy may help slow the progression of the disease. However, there is no concrete evidence that proves this plays an active role in a woman’s survival outcome. Delaying necessary cancer treatments due to pregnancy has also not been shown to affect the mother’s health. Additionally, there is no evidence that shows the cancer can spread to or harm the baby.

Maintaining regular appointments with your OBGYN and performing self breast examinations are all helpful in early detection of breast cancer, especially while pregnant. If you detect a change that concerns you, be sure to discuss it with your doctor right away. Remember, the earlier cancer is detected, the better the survival rate, do not wait to talk to your doctor if you have a concern.