What To Do When The Biopsy Shows Cancer
Dr. Elizabeth Poynor MD, PhD, Gynecologic Oncology/OB- MSK, NYU Lenox Hill, InKind Space Medical Advisory Board Member
1. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and realize that there are millions of breast cancer survivors who have been through what you are about to embark on.
2. Get organized. Get a file folder or notebook. Begin to get copies of all of your medical reports such as: mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs and pathology reports. This is your first step towards organizing control of your care and treatment. Keep this folder or notebook for all of your future appointments and highlight abnormalities for all of your physicians to see. Bring this notebook to all of your appointments. This notebook can also serve as a journal so that medical recommendations can also be noted, questions can be generated and answers can be noted.
3. Google in the right places. There as a lot of medical misinformation online and frequently medical information can serve as marketing for a particular hospital, practice, physician, or technique. The most comprehensive information for breast cancer and recommended treatments free of bias can be found at National Institutes of Health, PDQ and National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
4. Establish a team. Generally the starting point will be a specialist in breast surgery. Get a surgeon that you can communicate with. These are important relationships and trust and communication are crucial. A recommendation for a breast surgeon may come from your radiologist, gynecologist, internist or friends and family. Your team may also consist of a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and possibly a plastic surgeon. But, one step at a time…
5. One step at a time. It is easy to get overwhelmed and go in many different directions. Getting the surgeon established for most is the first step. The surgeon that you choose can then help to guide you to other members as you establish your team. Establish one person at a time. Additional opinions can be sought in a sequential fashion as recommendations are made to you.
6. Get support. Support may come from your family physician, gynecologist, friends and family, and or online communities, and well established institutions such as The American Cancer Society. Join the InKind Space Breast Cancer Community to connect with a network of patients, survivors, caretakers, advocates and experts who are asking questions, sharing tips and recommendations, and interested in helping each other live better day-to-day.
7. Realize that you are not alone. On average, every 2 minutes a female is diagnosed with breast cancer. Online communities such as InKind Space can help you to realize that you are not alone and provide a resource for your concerns and questions.
8. Realize that you will survive. The reality of one’s life changes in the seconds that you hear “the biopsy shows cancer,” but hold on to the concept that there is life of the other side of these 4 words.
9. Give yourself the appropriate time to devote to your care. This is a time to place you and your health first.
10. Get ready to fight the cancer and support your body. While going through cancer treatment and afterwards, proper support of your body with excellent nutrition, sleep and stress management is an important component of surviving and thriving.