Never go to any doctors visit alone
Often after hearing the words: “It’s Cancer”, you can’t focus to listen to anything else. You should bring another set of ears to your visit (ie. spouse, partner, friend, or family member). They can ask the questions you are afraid to ask and can take notes for you to review later.
Know your doctor and understand what you need from them
- Does your doctor explain everything to you in a manner you can understand?
- Has your doctor given you copies of your pathology report, shown you your mammograms and other imaging studies?
- Does your doctor take the time to listen to you?
- Do you feel connected to your doctor?
- Do you feel like during this journey, this will be a partner?
- Have all the options been discussed with you?
- Do they suggest additional sources of support or education?
The answers to all the above questions should be YES. If not, you may want to examine your relationship with the doctor and determine if you are comfortable with continuing your treatment with them. Going through treatment for breast cancer can be a difficult time for patients and the last thing you need is to be treated by someone you are not connected with, or you feel is not listening to you. There is nothing wrong with seeking a 2nd opinion from another specialist.
Consider a Second Opinion.
There is nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion. Sometimes patients feel shy about this because they are afraid that they might insult their physician. Most physicians are not offended and encourage this. It is import to explore all your options for breast cancer treatment. Please remember that you may not get the same opinion between physicians. This does not mean the first opinion was wrong. There is often no “right” answer for treatment but rather choices.
Know your pathology and stage
Sit down with your doctor and understand your pathology. Knowledge is power and you will feel more comfortable with your treatment plan if you understand your breast cancer.
Find a survivor
You are on the Sisters By Choice website, so that’s a great start! Only a breast cancer survivor can tell you what breast cancer is really like. There are women in all stages of diagnosis and treatment. Survivors give newly diagnosed breast cancer patients HOPE that there is life beyond breast cancer.
Find a support group
It’s important to have a lot of support around you while you go through cancer treatment. This journey can be emotionally and physically stressful. It’s ok to have down days. It’s ok to feel lousy during treatment. The important thing is that you don’t stay there. Get help from your friends and family during treatment. It’s ok to have support. You don’t have to go through this alone like some sort of Superwoman. You may want to consider joining a support group like Sisters By Choice. You have to find what works for you. If you don’t want meet in person, you may want to consider joining an online support group.
Be informed and armed with knowledge
I don’t mean Wikipedia or Web MD. Talk to people. Read approved and reputable breast cancer literature. Understand your pathology. This makes things much clearer when you meet with your doctor.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Take one day at a time. Being newly diagnosed with all the unknowns is scary. Things will get better as you learn more about your cancer, treatment options, and treatment plan. It’s ok to tell yourself that you are going to be OK. Remember, most women with breast cancer survive the disease.