All of us know someone or perhaps know someone who knows someone who is dealing with some type of cancer. As common as it may be in our day and age, one is never quite ready to be faced with a diagnosis or have it happen to a loved one.
Yet, these things occur, life throws us a curve ball. So what does one do after the classic shock, confusion, disbelief wears off hours or days or possibly even a week or so later? Experts have some suggestions that might make it easier to deal with a breast cancer diagnosis.
- Not necessarily terminal: A breast cancer diagnosis can be of multiple types ( ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma etc) and in different stages, (stage one to four). Not every diagnosis has to be a terminal one. The disease is much more curable nowadays depending on what your doctor advises for you.
- Stay aware of your condition: Find out all you can about your diagnosis. Stay updated with the latest developments in treatment, precautions and any clinical trials you could participate in. Writing down a list of things you’d like to discuss with your doctor and getting your doubts cleared is a good place to start.
Questions about what kind of breast cancer you have, where is it located, what your treatment options are and how you should prepare for treatment are some of the queries you might have. Equipping yourself with the right information is vital to your well being and recovery.
- Pay attention to finances: Depending on what stage of breast cancer you have and whether you have health insurance or not, cost of treatment will vary from stage 1 being the least expensive and stage 4 being the costliest.
If you are a working person, find out from your doctor if you will have to take some time off from work for treatment and for how long. Cancer treatments can prove to be quite an expensive ordeal so make sure to calculate and set aside funds to meet these expenditures.
- Keep family and friends informed: Notifying your family and relatives, co-workers and friends is a positive step towards treatment and recovery. Even if you are at an advanced stage, keeping people in the loop might prove beneficial.
People who love and care for you can provide you with the comfort and thoughtfulness you will need to reinforce your courage in this journey.
- Managing stress and body image issues: Any kind of cancer can be a trying time but breast cancer takes on a whole new meaning, seeing as it is, for the most part, a chronic disease that rarely affects men.
You might face intense emotional and even physical distress along with self-image issues (if you’ve had a lumpectomy, quadrantectomy, partial or a full mastectomy) from radiation therapy and/or surgery.
Remember that fear, anxiety, and depression are normal and you can manage it with a little help. You don’t have to be in this fight alone and you certainly don’t have to give in to the despair.
If you don’t have family and/or friends to turn to, you can opt for therapy or support groups the latter of which will include people like you who are battling the condition, someone who is a breast cancer survivor or who perhaps lost a loved one to the disease.
Acceptance is necessary to move ahead, whether you’re in stage 1 or 4 of the disease. Don’t give up – even if you are battling this alone.
Whatever your type and stage of breast cancer, take courage in the fact that millions around the world share a similar story and if you reach out for assistance, there’s always help to be found. Arm yourself with courage, fortify your resolve and march on regardless of what’s coming your way.