Who doesn’t remember the day they heard they have cancer? Whether it was yesterday, last week, last month, or years ago, the emotional upheaval is never forgotten. It is an event that changes your life forever. For many of us, like myself, we find we are more than the diagnosis of cancer and it is imperative to feel wholeness again. I was diagnosed more than 17 years ago, and as a Registered Nurse, I knew early on as a survivor, I wanted to someday use my nursing expertise and my cancer experience to guide and support the breast cancer survivors that follow.
If you have just begun your journey, the following points are helpful hints to consider:
- First, and foremost, realize breast cancer is not a medical emergency. Yes, it is an emotional emergency and one just wants to get it “taken care of” and over with. Yet, there is time to make those very important decisions when you are going through such frightening uncharted waters.
- Do your research. I say this for two reasons. First it is an avenue to feel you have some control in what is happening with you. Secondly, you want to make sure you are putting yourself in the hands of a very good breast surgeon and medical oncologist. There are many of those folks out there, and at the end of the day, you have to feel completely comfortable with the care you will receive. Many centers will have a multidisciplinary approach where you will meet with the surgeon, medical and radiation oncologist, nurse navigator and social worker all at one appointment. This team approach is to prevent any fragmented care and gives you the expert opinions of each of the professionals providing your care.
- When it comes to your pathology report understand what it means and how your specific treatment is determined by the team. Not all breast cancer is the same – some are “good actors” and some are not. With the enormous amount of research in breast cancer, great strides have been made in the treatment protocols – understand yours as fully as you can.
- Seek the support of others who have gone through this frightening experience before you. There are many organizations that offer tremendous support and resources for breast cancer survivors. I have some listed on my website http://www.janeedelman.com. Frankly, we are some of the luckiest survivors because as women, we are eager to be there to support one and other, without fear of talking and letting our raw emotions be known. As a Integrative Nurse Coach, I too am here to talk, guide and support. As a colleague of mine said, “A nurse coach is a light and compass in a dark world”.
If you are a survivor, or know someone who is and needs help through the process, contact us.