Symptom monitoring

Click below to monitor any symptoms or side effects you are experiencing using an online questionnaire. From this, you will receive tailored advice to help you manage mild symptoms & side-effects at home. Alternatively, you may be advised to contact your hospital for advice and support from a health professional.

Here, we also provide a range of guidance on how to monitor and manage symptoms and side-effects which you may experience.

In this section

Self-management advice

After completing a symptom monitoring question, you will receive a range of self-management advice tailored to your needs and the symptoms you are experiencing. Further information is also provided below to help you to self-manage a host of symptoms and side-effects which are commonly experienced in secondary breast cancer.

Please only follow this advice if you are currently participating in the LIBERATE research project. Otherwise, please follow the advice of your medical team.

It is always a good idea to discuss new symptoms that have lasted more than a week or two with your doctor or nurse.

A good rule of thumb is to always let your doctor or nurse know if you have any of the following;

  • Symptoms that are new or worrying to you
  • Symptoms that you can’t explain
  • Symptoms that won’t go away

Please click on the symptoms below to explore a range of self-management advice, guidance and tips.

Palliative care for symptom management support

Do you feel that some extra support with managing some of the symptoms and side-effects which you’re experiencing would be helpful?

Have you heard about the support that palliative care professionals are able to provide?

Lots of people think that palliative care and support from hospices is just part of end of life care. This can mean that people are scared or reluctant to accept help from palliative care for fear that this means they are dying.

However, this is not at all the case. The word ‘palliative’ comes from ‘palliate’, meaning ‘to make better’. Doctors and nurses specialising in palliative care are experts in managing difficult symptoms such as pain, fatigue and nausea.

Whilst palliative care professionals are often involved in a patient’s care at the end of their life, they are also able to provide a wide range of support at any stage. In fact, research has shown that the earlier women access palliative care support in secondary breast cancer, the better their quality of life.

It can be difficult to talk about palliative care because it is so strongly associated with dying and end of life. It is much more helpful to think of it as specialised symptom management which uses a ‘holistic’ approach. This means that it takes into consideration all aspects of you and your life when looking to manage health and disease, including physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects. This is why it is also referred to as supportive care, as it aims to support you to live well with your cancer.

Palliative care teams can include specialist doctors and nurses as well as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and social workers. You may be able to access support from them in hospital, in hospices or at home in your community depending on the services available in your local area. Hospices aren’t just places where people are cared for at the end of their life. Their day patient services allow people to visit for help in managing their symptoms or psychological support. Some have specialist nurses who are able to offer care and support at home during the night or at weekends. Palliative care professionals, whether hospice, hospital or community based, can also offer support to your family.

Speak to your hospital doctor, nurse or GP about how and where you can access palliative care support in your local area. Even if you don’t feel that you need this support quite yet, it can help to know what it available.

Remember, your treatments are helping you to live but it is also important for you to live well.

Relaxation techniques for symptom management

Allowing your body and mind to relax can you to cope with a range of symptoms and side effects.

There are lots of different relaxation exercises you can try.

Slow rhythmic breathing is one example;

  1. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and breath out slowly through your mouth, feeling your body begin to relax. Focus on the tension leaving your body with each breath.
  2. Continue to breathe in and out slowly and deeply at a rate which feels comfortable for you. Try to breathe in for a slow count of three and out for a slow count of four.
  3. When taking a deep breath in, feel the breath travel all the way down to your stomach.
  4. Continue with this slow, rhythmic breathing for up to 10 mins or for as long as it feels comfortable for you.
  5. When you finish, end with a slow, deep breath.

Macmillan also provide a range of information on relaxed breathing and other forms of relaxation which you might find helpful.

Sources

Page last updated: April 2020