Health Magazine

What I Learned from Two Breast Cancers

Posted on the 27 March 2015 by Jean Campbell

breast cancer

A diagnosis of breast cancer comes with many lessons. All cancers do. Here are just a few :

  • You don’t have to accept the unacceptable. You can find a treatment center, with healthcare personnel that treat you with dignity from the receptionist to the surgeon, the oncologist and every other member of the breast cancer treatment team.
  • Don’t choose a treatment center because it is convenient; choose based on reputation for excellent breast cancer care and a site visit.

  • Be a partner in your care. Ask questions, and keep asking them until you understand what your recommended breast cancer treatment plan is going to be. Have you pathology report explained to you. Get referrals for other services you might need such as counseling, nutrition, genetic testing.
  • Ask to be put in touch with a survivors group that can give you pointers on preparing for the practical issues that will arise, such as shopping for clothing for after, surgery or during radiation, and/or a wig, if chemo is a part of your treatment.

  • Wearing wigs takes practice to make them look natural. A good wig gal guarantees never having a bad hair day!
  • Life doesn’t stop for you or anyone else when you have cancer. There are still things that have to be done and good things to be enjoyed.
  • The people who are there for you during your breast cancer treatment may come with pleasant surprises and a few disappointments.
  • Avoid the toxic person who looks at you as if you have hours to live.  Also avoid the one who wants to know every detail of your experience, and then wants to tell you what happened to someone she knows who has breast cancer; it is usually a depressing story!

  • Drop the ones  who need to tell you what you should be feeling and how you should be coping with your breast cancer.
  • Pick a few close friends and family members who are non-judgmental, good listeners and let them be the people you turn to when you need to talk. It helps if they have a sense of humor.
  • Let people help. Some people are not good with words, but they would be happy to help  by running errands, cooking a meal or driving  you to treatment.
  • There are those who will tell you that your cancer was hard for them to deal with and that is why they couldn’t call you or visit while you were in treatment. You don’t need these people either.
  • A friend or family may expect you to be your old self as soon as treatment is over with no residual fears and no need to speak about your experience ever again unless you have a recurrence. Join a breast cancer support group. Members won’t have you on a time table; they will be able to relate to you and where you are at, because they are there now or have been there not so long ago.

  • One day, active treatment will be over, and your biggest challenge will be to live in today and not allow fear of a breast cancer recurrence to rob you of enjoying your life as a survivor
  • Every day that you wake up and don’t have to go for tests or treatment is a good day!

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