I think this might need to be an ongoing series. I can’t believe how much I have learned in 11 days. When you are diagnosed, you quickly become an expert on a subject you really don’t want to be an expert on. It feels much longer than eleven days since I was diagnosed! I hope no one reading this ever needs these tips, but these are a few things I wish I had known:
1. You can definitely have breast cancer without feeling a lump. Stay on top of those mammogram appointments, get MRIs if you qualify and insist on a biopsy if something shows up. I spoke to another local mom recently who had to push and insist on a biopsy when the radiologist didn’t think she needed one. It was cancer.
2. Early and stage 1 doesn’t always mean no chemo or radiation.
3. When you get cancer, there is a TON of waiting. Waiting for results, waiting for doctors appointments, waiting for surgery. Nothing is ever as fast as you want it to be.
4. Unlike other cancers where you usually see an oncologist first, with breast cancer you usually meet a surgeon first.
5. The two sites that all of my doctors so far have recommended are breastcancer.org and NCCN. I also found one called mybcteam where you can type in your specific type of cancer with all of your stats and find others with the exact or similar situations. It’s nice because you can read their stories, see how they were treated, etc.
6. I was always under the impression that the most important part of your cancer is the stage. I have learned that for breast cancer, there are many other important elements…the grade of the tumor, whether you are PR (progesterone receptor) negative or positive, ER (estrogen receptor) negative or positive, HER negative or positive and Ki-67 (rate at which the cancer grows).
7. If you get breast cancer, you will probably be prescribed medication after your surgery/chemo, and you will likely be on that medication for 5-10 years.
8. Everyone has a story about someone in their life who had breast cancer. 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. That is a pretty crazy statistic.
9. There are many studies that say diet and exercise play a huge role in whether or not your breast cancer will return after treatment. Even just 30 minutes of walking a day can make a difference. I plan to majorly step up my exercise routine.
10. After you first get diagnosed, you will be extremely busy! A friend told me this early on and I didn’t understand at first. There is so much to do…researching doctors, securing appointments, coordinating records/scans, travel arrangements, researching your cancer, prepping home/life for upcoming surgery, the list goes on..
Just realized I could easily do more than 10, but will save some for the next issue. 🙂