How to Be Your Own Advocate in Your Breast Cancer Journey

When a doctor tells you that you have breast cancer, your world changes. After the shock diminishes, find the strength to be your own best advocate. Now’s the time to gather all your internal resources and use them to save your life.

Check out this advice from others who have blazed the trail before you:

Research Your Options
After you’ve had a chance to digest your situation, it’s time to get out a tablet or pad of paper. You don’t have to be a wordsmith or have perfect spelling. Just gather and record your questions and keep asking them until you understand the answers. Get someone to come to your appointments with you so they can take notes and research terms and treatment options. Take this project on like it’s the most important thing you’ve ever done.

MORE: How to get a good night’s sleep after a breast cancer diagnosis

Get a Second Opinion
After your doctor tells you that you have cancer, get another doctor. You need a second opinion. Cancer is a complicated, serious disease, and you have to be sure you’re getting the best treatment possible. Insist on a second opinion no matter what.

Find a Doctor You Trust
Cancer treatment is a marathon, and you’ll be spending a lot of time with your care team. It’s critical that you trust your doctor’s expertise and your team’s ability to give you the best chances for a positive outcome. If you feel ambiguous about your physician, make a change.

MORE: How to manage cancer treatment’s effects on fingernails

Commit to a Plan
Once you’ve decided on a plan of action, do your part. That means showing up for every appointment, reporting side effects, and paying close attention to changes in your health — both mental and physical. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and use common sense to take care of yourself.

Ask for Help
The inability for many strong women to ask for help is often their Achilles’ heel. But remember that myth: when Achilles’ mom dipped him into the River Styx to give him invulnerability, she held him by his heel. That unprotected spot on his body was what finally did him in when an arrow landed there. Don’t let pride or discomfort keep you from getting the help you need. Tell your friends about your diagnosis and let them help you. You’ll return the favor when you’re feeling strong again.

MORE: Five steps to creating the perfect makeup look during chemotherapy

Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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