So you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer...now what? Being diagnosed with any type of illness can be devastating. However, there are certain steps you can take to help you comprehend this new information and strongly move forward. Breast Cancer survival rates have increased drastically thanks to improved treatments and thorough screenings that are now available.
Below are 5 Must Do Next Steps when the diagnosis is breast cancer:
1) Take heart: The human spirit is astonishingly resilient. Give yourself time to work through the emotions you are experiencing. Once you do, you’ll be able to say, “Okay, I’m ready. What do I do now?"
2) Get the facts: Learn all you can about your specific cancer and how to best treat it. This is especially important with breast cancer where treatments vary greatly. Learn about factors like tumor type, lymph node status and breast cancer stage along with all potential treatment options. However, know your information “comfort level”. Some people prefer as much information as quickly as possible. While others prefer not to know too much too fast. Enlist the help of tech-savvy friends or relatives to do the research if you are too overwhelmed or unable to do it yourself. Be sure to communicate your information “comfort level” to your physicians.
3) Prepare for your appointments: Write down questions and concerns you have and bring those with you. It’s likely you will feel overwhelmed during these appointments and forget what you hoped to discuss with the physician. It’s also common not to “hear” everything being communicated to you. Bring someone with you to every appointment if possible. Not only will the emotional support be important, another set of ears will help make sense of all the information provided. Always take notes and audio record the appointments if feasible.
4) Find your voice and use it: If you are concerned or upset by something related to your care and treatment, speak up! When people feel vulnerable or scared, they tend to tolerate something rather than “rock the boat”. This also means not accepting everything your physicians tell you as absolute and accurate IF you think you need more information or a second opinion.
5) Know your recurrence risk: While breast cancer is very treatable, it can reoccur in the breast or another site, particularly the lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs and brain. There are several factors that can make recurrence more likely. Engage your physicians in an honest conversation about what these risk factors are and if any of them apply to you.
YOU'VE GOT THIS!
WHERE TO GET HELP
ABCD was founded by a group of women – led by Melodie Wilson – who realized that having breast cancer is about much more than biopsies, surgery and chemotherapy. Most of ABCD’s founders are breast cancer survivors who discovered that the most valuable information and support came from others in similar life circumstances with similar experiences with the disease. Not everyone diagnosed with breast cancer knows where to find that kind of help. That’s where ABCD comes in.
The Patient Access Network Foundation (PAN) facilitates access to medical treatment for patients with chronic or life-threatening illness. PAN is dedicated to overcoming financial and other barriers to treatment, and works efficiently and collaboratively to help patients receive prescribed treatments and the care that best meets their needs. Since October 2004, PAN has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in co-payment assistance to patients in need.
Hundreds of organizations seek support and solutions through Ulliance Life Advisor consultants every year to assist employees in balancing the personal and professional, improving your bottom line in the process. How can we help you? Visit www.ulliance.com or call 866-648-8326.