Newly Diagnosed. Now What?
What brings you to this website is most likely a breast cancer diagnosis. Perhaps you found a lump, noticed swelling or experienced pain; maybe you are awaiting test results; or you just heard the words that you've been diagnosed with breast cancer; or perhaps you are experiencing a recurrence. Whatever the reason, I want you to know that you will be supported and that our Surviving Breast Cancer (SBC) community is here for you!
We are here to help!
A breast cancer diagnosis disrupts our lives and throws us into a whirlwind of doctors appointments, follow ups, tests, scans, and the like. Each and every one of us have unique experiences, and what our SBC platform and community provides is education, support, and resources for you as a complement to your medical care. We are not medical professionals, nor provide medical advice. But what we do offer is content, stories, and community when you need it most! What I mean by that is you are welcome to dive in to absolutely everything we offer today, or, you can take bite size approaches to get the information and support when you feel ready for it. We've listed a few links and resources to help get you started and to hopefully make things a bit less overwhelming.
Who Should I Tell?
Learning that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer can set you into a whirlind of uncertainty and that is to be expected. There is probably a lot of information you do not yet know. At this time, you may want to start thinking about who you should tell. While this can also be difficult for loved ones, family, and friends to hear, you are actually in the process of cultivating your support team!
Remember, you do not need to tell everyone all at once. Perhaps starting with close family, let friends know how they can help support you during this time. It is a personal decision on how private or public you want to be and completely your choice in how much information you choose to share.
You may want to have seperate conversations with your children depending on their ages. We also recommend speaking with your medical team about your treatment options and getting a plan in place for when you may need to take time off from work or be out of the office.
Should I Get A Second Opinion?
You may consider receiving a second opinion from another medical oncologist or breast surgeon. In some cases, people get multiple opinions before making any decisions on their care and medical treatment plan.
Women in our Breast Cancer Support Group often share that it is important for them to feel comfortable with your doctors; that there is a rapport and trust. After all, your medical team is going to be your primary caregiver throughout treatment so it is important you feel comfortable with the person, able to ask questions, and feel confident in your plan of action.
Your Medical Care Team may consist of one or several of the following:
Breast Plastic Surgeon
What Treatment Options Do I Have?
Thanks to continued research taking place in Breast Cancer, people diagnosed today have a variety of treatment options and are able to live long healthy lives. Treatment options will be tailored to your specific diagnosis and dependent on the stage of your breast cancer (1-4) and it's characteristics. For example, is it HER2 positive or negative, is it triple negative meaning it is estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative and HER2 negative. Your oncologist will also take into consideration how advance the cancer is. During this phase you may be getting more tests and scans.
During this phase, you may also consider genetic testing. Genetic testing is helpful for a multitude of reasons including helping to make surgery decisions. If you end of testing positive for a genetic pre-disposition to developing breast cancer, your surgeon may recommend a full double mastectomy.
Traditional standard of care includes:
Surgery (not always required if you are diagnosed with metastatic stage IV breast cancer, that is, your cancer has spread beyond your breast to your bones, lungs, liver, or brain)
Radiation (not always required)
Chemotherapy (not always required)
Hormonal Therapy (not always required)
Oftentimes people will also consider integrative therapies as a complement to the standard treatments which also has been shown to reduce some of the side effects of treatment:
Additionally speak to your oncologist about Clinical Trials and if you would be a candidate.
Will I Need Chemotherapy?
Not everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will need chemotherapy. There are several factors that go into this determination and should be a conversation you have with your oncologist. For example, your doctor will take into consideration the stage of cancer that you have (i.e., stage 1, 2, 3, 4) and the characteristics of your tumor, (i.e., if it is hormonal positive or negative) etc.
In some instances, chemotherapy will be an option for people prior to surgery. This is called neo-adjuvant chemo. Other times, chemotherapy may be prescribed after surgery which is referred to as adjuvant chemotherapy.