Anytime someone uses the world “cancer,” stomachs drop and brows furrow. When the word breast cancer is uttered, minds start racing with worries about the worst-case scenario. Leaving the doctor’s office after being diagnosed with breast cancer is one of the hardest parts, as you are literally taking your first steps toward treatment. Breathe — it’s going to be okay.
Get to Know What You’re Dealing With
If you need to break out a recording device to remember everything the doctor said, then do it. Take time out to research all the terms that he or she used. Research the different stages and start finding answers to common questions so you can be better informed. Once you know the basics, you can start asking your doctor the more advanced questions about the cancer and about your treatment.
Start Building Your Support System
Moving forward, you’re going to want a two-tier support system. The first tier should be a significant other or a parent who can hold your hand the entire time and stand next to you during doctor’s visits. The job of this person isn’t easy; they’ll know everything about breast cancer and all of your specific treatments, and they’ll be the second opinion you seek when you make the hard decisions. They’ll also need to be a hand to hold and shoulder to cry on.
The second tier is made up of your friends and family, who will drop by to brighten your day and ask about your well-being. They’ll bring books to read while you recover, gossip to keep you in the loop, and jokes to make you laugh. They’re like breaths of fresh air in a world of medical jargon and stuffy hospitals.
This is actually one of the hardest steps as you start telling those who are close to you about your breast cancer. It starts to feel real, and you have to say it out loud over and over again.
Find Your Voice and Start Asking Questions
Some doctors and hospitals make a patient feel rushed, especially if the cancer seems minor and easy to treat. This might be good news for you, as you’re not a case that the staff is highly worried about, but it can make a patient feel like their not valued or important.
Don’t let the doctor or nurse leave until you have every possible question and concern addressed. You’re already going through a difficult time in your life; you don’t want to be left in the dark in regard to your treatment plan. Ask what test results mean, look at your chart, and have the doctor give explanations of the treatment process.
One of the first things you should do after you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer is to treat yourself to cupcakes, that purse you’ve had an eye on, a manicure, or whatever else makes you feel good about yourself. The road ahead won’t be easy, so take a little time to make yourself feel good before you have to face it.
Fighting cancer isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t beat it. Use it to build strength, not weakness.