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Breast Cancer Treatment: Weighing Reward and Risk

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Breast Cancer Treatment: Weighing Reward and Risk

Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
(#14 in a series)

When you receive a diagnosis of any type of cancer, there are three important things you must do to be a successful partner in your own health care.

  1. Seek out health care professionals who have empathy and whom you can trust.
  2. Ask questions, research, learn, and ask more questions.
  3. Make carefully-weighed decisions. Lots of them.

Decisions, Decisions, and more Decisions. Reward and Risk. Decisions regarding breast cancer treatment can be confusing and intimidating. It is wise to seek out the opinions of doctors. It is fair to request and welcome input of trusted family members and friends. But ultimately, these decisions belong to the patients, for we must be able to live with them.

How many decisions have I made since finding that breast lump last October? I’ve lost count. From deciding not to hesitate, but to see a doctor immediately, to following a fast track course to diagnosis, to consciously accepting the medical team that seemed to form itself around me, the decisions came quickly, but not without careful consideration.

Lumpectomy or mastectomy? Reconstructive surgery or prosthetic breast? Chemotherapy? Chemo port? Radiation? Drugs to combat individual symptoms or side effects? Complementary or alternative treatment? Diet, rest, exercise, general lifestyle, patient support groups, clinical trials… not to mention matters regarding employment, health insurance, and family and social obligations… it’s enough to make your head spin.

Even after all treatment appears to be over and done with, I’ll have to decide what kind of life I want to live. Do I want a lot of follow-up testing to reassure myself, or will I take a more relaxed approach and keep things simple, as my doctors seem to suggest? I believe I’ll choose the latter, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that all plans are subject to change.

Next: Decisions come with consequences and sometimes uncomfortable reactions

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Read more: Cancer, General Health, Health, Multiple Sclerosis, Women's Health, ,

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11:03PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

I have had two friends who were dx'd with cervical cancer, and I told them I'd be happy to go with them to any appointments, for support, and to help speak for them, to ask questions I don't hear them ask, to keep the doctor on track or from treating my friend as an idiot or uneducated about her condition. That way, she could go into overwhelm and clearer-headed me could take over getting the information needed.

It was something I knew I could do, that might come in useful.

3:26AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

Thanks for the article.

11:12AM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

Thank you Ann - you give courage to many!

10:40AM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

My story is much like the others good to know their are so many others had the same doubts, the treatment not knowing if it will work, sick from the treatment, tired all the time, financially crippled,cost of the medications asking do I eat or take one of many medications,friends who disappear because they are afraid you may ask for help, trying to still be mom, state agencies that won't help even though you've worked 36 years saving other lives as an RN and over that period paid thousands into the state and federal govt. One thing that keeps have way seen is the support and understanding from the various cancer foundation, All can say is God Bless them and pray they are spared, they truly make a difference. Diane

4:24AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

I just wanted to add a commment, from someone who has not, as yet, been diagnosed with cancer, but it seems that nearly all the women I know seem to have had cancer and they are THRIVING!!! ( and cancer in my imediate family!) They all, as far as I can remember, have had chemo and all the other medical treatment and then have gone totally healthy, with organic food and meditation and done positive things to stay healthy and although the stats for cancer deaths sound pretty terrible.. You consider how many more people survive!! Iknew one lady who had a mastectomy when she was forty and lived to be ninety!! ( and that was WAY back when medicine was not what it is today!) There seems to have been a lot of work done on 'cellular memory" ( look it up in your search engine) which seems to be the latest thing in stopping recurrence of cancer and the new drugs been trialled in the UK that are meant to stop rogue cells in their tracks in secondary cancers, are meant to be on the market in about two years!
It is all very positive and I send my love and prayers and message of love and hope to all of you who are trying to decide what path to take in your cure.

7:08AM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

May you gain strength of body and mind from day to day. Good luck with your decision-making, don't lose courage now that you have already come so far. Even if the future looks somewhat dim, remember that we only have to live one day at a time. Looking forward to your contributions.

9:52AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

Thanks, everything so true.

7:27AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

Thank you very much ! ..*-*..

6:31AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011


3:36AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

Noted with thanks.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Interesting article, but I will stick to my pussies and doggies. Thank you for caring and sharing.

thank you for the good info

Hate the term superfood but love cantaloupe.

Gonna try the peel on my teeth if I remember just for gigs


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