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Next Steps After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

“I needed to be sure my treatment was right.”

When Sarita Joy Jordan, a 41-year-old mother of four from Philadelphia, was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, she decided to seek a second opinion right away. “I didn’t want to simply go along with what my doctor said.” After doing a lot of research on the Internet, she traveled to a large cancer center for a consultation. “The place had none of the intimacy of the hospital where I first went, plus the doctors were accompanied by medical students, all of whom wanted a chance to examine my breast. I wasn’t comfortable with that.” The second opinion she received confirmed everything her first doctor had recommended (lumpectomy followed by eight weeks of chemo, 30 rounds of radiation, and five years of hormone therapy), so she decided to return to her original doctor’s care.

“I don’t think getting the second opinion was a mistake, even though it was time-consuming and not the best experience,” says Sarita. “It helped me accept that I really had cancer—I secretly believed it might be a mistake—and even more important, it gave me confidence in the treatment I chose.”

“I kept notes on everything.”

Two years ago 44-year-old Debbie Blevins, a mother of two teenagers from Louisville, Kentucky, had a breast-sparing lumpectomy, then chemo and radiation. From start to finish her treatment took eight months—and throughout the entire time she carried a big notebook with her everywhere. In it she wrote lists of questions to ask doctors, took notes on her appointments, and jotted down the names of all the drugs she was on. “I also wrote down every gift and meal I received,” says Debbie. “I wanted to remember how wonderful and supportive everyone was.”

Debbie says she wasn’t good at record-keeping before being diagnosed with breast cancer. But the notebook helped her stay sane. “I was so stressed, and it was a huge help to have everything in one place,” she says. In addition, Debbie had a plastic bin at home filled with medical information she received from doctors, a folder for receipts and bills, and a photo album that chronicled her treatment, including the day her husband shaved her head. “I often look back and see what a difference a year has made!”

Originally published in the October 1, 2010, issue of Family Circle magazine.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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11:07AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

Thank you :)

1:03PM PST on Feb 2, 2014

Interesting if conventional info. Like someone said, maybe we should clean up our food, air and water and maybe that would be a good help. Thanks.

12:58PM PST on Feb 2, 2014

Thank you for the post.

3:28AM PST on Dec 31, 2013


9:45PM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

Thank you :)

2:21PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

Sounds like the same old crap to me. I think it's about time we thought more lenier...really...HELLO...same treatment since my aunt in the early 70' this really the best we can do...mutilating women...poising them after to the point they need support groups? Let's clean up our food.

5:42PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Do you know the date you really started to live your life? That date for me was May1,2006. The day of THE LUMP! I found it myself -- knew it was cancer before the doctor told me I was positive for breast cancer. By the time I saw the surgeon, my life had already taken a turn in a direction I never thought possible. I became involved in my treatment -- surgery, chemo-therapy -- these were not going to get the better of me -- I would not allow it!!! When everyone thought I would just sit back -- I stood up, ran for the door and didn't stop. Still going strong, I am still involved by helping others in their fight to win by volunteering at anything I can; breast cancer walks, runs, bake sales, just holding onto another girl's hand when needed. So see, In doing these things, I did not help myself, I was helping others. And I started to live the life I wanted -- a LIFE worthy of mention in the end. -- a LIFE to proud of. I am no longer the "girl with cancer" I became the Survivor who found herself just when she thought life was over. LIFE -- GO LIVE IT!!!

3:25AM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

self check,mammograms,regular check-ups,early favorite word is benign.

9:53PM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

Excellent article and advice for everyone. Thanks

11:51AM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

I am a five-year survivor of breast cancer who did the "cut, poison, burn" therapy. I was fine throughout treatment and I'm fine today. Not dead. No side effects during or after treatment. My oncologist never told me I was "cured". I'm cancer free, I'm living with no evidence of disease but not cured. When I was diagnosed, I chose to delay my surgery for 2 1/2 months because of a prior commitment. Even though I had always lived a healthy lifestyle, during this 2 1/2 months I made some significant changes to my diet, took supplements that were supposed to shrink the tumor and the list goes on. I was hopeful - maybe it would work. But the tumor grew....

I have met many amazing breast cancer survivors, from 2 years to 25 years - women and men - who have undergone "orthodox" treatment. Like me, they're fine. Living life. No more cancer. No horrible side effects.

Susan L. - I'm curious... where are you getting the tests done that show your cancer is going away? Surely not from the medical system that you show such contempt for. Just sayin'...

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