CANCER! Be it in the brain or breast, it does have a long lasting effect on people both physically and psychologically. Beginning with symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation etc, the list goes on. But is that all? Or do cancer survivors have more to say about the aftermath of cancer?

The aftermath of cancer often leads to mental stress and depression, and many cancer survivors continue to deal with emotional and psychological confusion and to overcome the trauma. But there many who have overcome these and shown the world that it is possible to be happy.

Aniela McGuinness, a 32-year-old Hollywood actress, tested positive at age 25 for the same genetic traits as Angelina Jolie (who went on to have a preventive mastectomy.) When McGuinness turned 30, she too decided to undergo a preventative bilateral mastectomy. However, it was a little too late. Doctors discovered that McGuinness had already developed cancer.

Surrounded by post-mastectomy images of women without breasts, their chests covered with scar tissue, McGuinness was determined to come up with other alternatives. She wanted to ignite awareness and “shake people up”. So, she decided to document her experience of the mastectomy with a series of unconventional photographs entitled “My Breast Choice”.

McGuinness dealt with the aftermath of her breast cancer and mastectomy by 'reclaiming' the female breast through art and reconstructive surgery. There are other ways to make peace with surviving cancer.

Here are some other ways in which survivors have come to terms with what they've been through:

  • They ignore the myths and concentrate on the facts. Staying informed and up to date about your condition; most fears and worries about recurrence are based on incorrect information.

  • They lean on fellow survivors. Research says that support groups have helped cancer survivors ease their anxiety by enabling them to discuss common experiences.

  • They look after themselves. Be it yoga or simple evening strolls, exercise has a profound impact on anxiety and depression.

  • They reach out to mental health professionals. Treatments for cancer-related post-traumatic stress could include cognitive behavioural therapy which helps patients manage stress effectively.